From the Latin fenum, hay
The green or yellowish fennel eeds have an anise-like flavour, though sweeter and milder. They are used in both sweet and savory European recipes, as well as in Chinese and Indian cooking. The fleshy bulb of the fennel plant is used as a vegetable.
Known to man for some 6000 years, fennel was introduced into England by the Romans. It was taken to the New World by the Puritans, who esteemed the seeds more highly than the vegetable. They called it "meeting seed" and used it to freshen their breath and to fend off sleepiness and hunger during long church assemblies.
In France during the time of Louis XVI, ladies concocted a refined liqueur called rossoli, made by macerating fennel, anise and coriander seeds in spirits with chamomile and sugar.
Unlike other spices, fennel is both a vegetable and a spice, though only the seeds are properly referred to as a spice. They should be gently heated in a skillet before being crushed, in order to bring out their full flavour and aroma.
In some regions of Italy, fennel seeds are still used today in sausage making.
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