Making fun of leaves

Did you ever read something on the internet that was so bizarre, so outrageous, so…wrong that you just had to write something else on the internet to contradict it and set people straight?

No, of course not.  That’s just silly.  Why would anybody write unpleasant things down in public?  And why would anybody else care what someone else wrote on the internet?  If someone has a disagreeable notion they would like to share, it is much simpler to ignore them.  They don’t know any better.  They were probably raised by wolves.

Which is why I was taken aback when I read the following shocking statement. (Trigger warning: Do not try to feed Trigger.  He’s not your horse.  And he’s dead.)

There are no fun facts about arugula. Period.

The author of the statement above justifies himself by saying the following:

I need FUN facts about arugula in order to encourage others to buy it, plant it, grow it, eat it.

Now I have a motto: There are no unfun facts.  There are only facts not having fun. (Disclaimer: This is not my motto.  It’s not even on my list of mottos, which is here.  This is a stupid motto.  I wouldn’t touch that motto with a ten foot pole.)  If you don’t have fun facts, it’s important to make the facts fun yourself. To that end, I’d like to share with you some fun facts about arugula.

(Important Disclaimer: The statements below are for fun purposes only.  They should not under any circumstances be considered encouragement to buy, plant, grow, or (God forbid) eat arugula.  I’d sooner recommend a timepiece from Hammacher Schlemmer.)

Credit Where Credit is Due Announcement: All of the unfun facts below have been cribbed directly from Wikipedia. Technically, this stretches the definition of the word “fact”, but it’s still more research than I normally put into a blog post.

Fact: Arugula is commonly known as salad rocket, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, and roquette.

Fun fact 1: If anything should commonly be known as salad rocket, it’s the carrot.

Fun fact 2: Despite the fact that kids will eat anything if you call it a “salad rocket”, people insist on calling this stuff “arugula”, which is not Italian for “salad rocket”.

Fun corollary 2a:  “Salad rocket” in Italian is “razza di insalata”, which in and of itself is fun to say, particularly in a comical Italian accent.  See what I mean? (You know you tried it.)

Fact: Some botanists consider it a subspecies of Eruca vesicaria.  Still others do not differentiate between the two.

Fun fact 3: There are at least 4 botanists (2 on each side) involved in this dispute. Yet you never read about it in the press. Nor is there a reality show designed to exploit this conflict. Not even on HGTV.

Fact: It is also used cooked in Apulia, in Southern Italy, to make the pasta dish cavatiéddi, “in which large amounts of coarsely chopped rocket are added to pasta seasoned with a homemade reduced tomato sauce and pecorino”, as well as in “many unpretentious recipes in which it is added, chopped, to sauces and cooked dishes” or in a sauce (made by frying it in olive oil and garlic) used a condiment for cold meats and fish.

Fun fact 4: This is all one long run-on sentence.  Trying to diagram it would kill more time than it’s worth.

Fun fact 5: If I am parsing correctly, apparently once there were many unpretentious dishes that contain arugula.  None survive to the present day.

Fact: It was listed in a decree by Charlemagne of 802 as one of the pot herbs suitable for growing in gardens.

Fun fact 6: Charlemagne, King of the Franks and first Holy Roman Emperor, issued gardening decrees.  Perhaps one of them outlawed unpretentious uses of arugula.

Fun fact 7: Arugula is no longer the most popular pot herb grown in gardens. Especially in Colorado.

Fact: The species has a chromosome number of 2n = 22

Fun fact 8: n = 11, which is prime.  (Disclaimer: this is not fun in and of itself, but is provided for the sake of people who are still diagramming that sentence above, and don’t have time to do the math themselves.  Maybe you’ll find the next fact more to your liking.)

Fact: The taxonomic name of arugula is Eruca sativa.

Fun fact 9: “Arugula” is an anagram for “aura lug”, which sounds like work.  On the other hand, “Eruca sativa” is an anagram for “active auras”, which sounds much healthier.

Fun fact 10: “Eruca sativa” is also an anagram for “caviar eat us”.  Caviar is disgusting fish eggs.  This is a subliminal message.  You should not eat the same things that fish eggs eat.

Fun corollary 10a: “Salad rocket” is an anagram for “croaked last”.  This is a thinly veiled attempt to make you think arugula is good for longevity.  Don’t fall for it.  “Salad rocket” is also an anagram for “cloaked rats”.

There you have it.  Ten fun facts and two fun corollaries about arugula.  As the kids say when they’re having fun, “Whee.”

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