The fascinating history of celery

celery salad

These days, about the only place you’ll see celery being served is alongside Buffalo wings, in a Bloody Mary, or as part of a relish tray (where it will likely remain after all of the other vegetables are eaten). That wasn’t always the case, says Heather Arndt Anderson. Beginning in the mid-1800s and continuing for almost 100 years, celery was celebrated as a luxury for the upper class

Celery’s special status came about during the Victorian age. Because it was difficult to grow, celery was rare, and for the upper-class it became a status symbol. It was served at almost every meal in special celery vases on the tables of the well-to-do, and the middle class would display it as a centerpiece of their holiday tables. It was served in a variety of ways: raw with cheeses, braised with sauces both heavy and light, and as a salad.

Once growers figured out how to grow celery on a large-scale basis, the interest in serving it as a stand-alone vegetable waned. It was no longer special, and the upper class moved on to rarities like truffles and oysters. But for many decades, celery enjoyed superstar status among vegetables.

Photo of Celery salad with celery root and horseradish from Bon Appétit Magazine

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  • Jenny  on  December 3, 2017

    I love celery – I know so strange – especially in stir-fries.

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