Slim Jim EggPlant
Slim Jim is a terrific dwarf aubergine variety from Italy – an award-winning all-rounder in the patio vegetable category. Its dark-purple foliage and clusters of long, slim, purple fruits make it a perfect choice for ornamental and decorative gardens. Even though the variety’s origins are not clear, most accounts agree that it is southern-Italian in origin and was first introduced by Italian seed company Fratelli Ingegnoli. Aubergines originated in Asia, being recorded first in the 6th century Chinese agricultural treatise Qímín Yàoshù. The plant was introduced to the Mediterranean region by Arabs in the Middle Ages. Aubergines have a somewhat unusual reputation in Italy – historically, it was thought that the whole plant could cause insanity. The name melanzana is derived from mela insana, meaning ‘insane apple’!
Tomato San Marzano Nano
San Marzano tomatoes are, without doubt, gods of the tomato world. And, like any other god, they have their own creation myth: the story goes that the first San Marzano seed came to Italy in 1770 as a gift from the Viceroyalty of Perù to the Kingdom of Naples. They were first grown in San Marzano sul Sarno village and have since become known as ‘the most important industrial tomato of the twentieth century’. With its firm, thick flesh and sweet taste, this variety was found to be perfect for the manufacture and exportation of pelati (peeled, tinned whole tomatoes), which have become popular all over the world. Indeed, pizza and pasta would not be the same without these distinctive, pointy, bright-red fruits. And this dwarf, determinate edition is no less than a god in miniature!
Carrot Paris Market
The Paris Market carrot, also known as Tonda di Parigi or Marché de Paris, is a round heirloom variety from the 19th century. This ancient French root vegetable is actually perfect for contemporary needs: it does well where other carrots would struggle – for example in shallow, clay-rich or rocky soil. Even better, as the carrots grow just 5 cm in diameter, they’re a perfect choice for containers. What these small carrots lack in size, they make up for in flavour – they are deliciously tender, bite-sized, and extra sweet, with very smooth skin. They are a fantastic market seller and are very popular with kids because of their ping-pong-ball shape. They’re also a favourite with gourmet chefs, and you’re bound to love the sweetness of this old Parisian, too!
Hot Pepper Jalapeño M
The Jalapeño chili is named after the city of Xalapa in Mexico, where the pepper was traditionally cultivated. But Mexicans also know it by the names chile gordo, meaning ‘fat chili pepper’, and cuaresmeño, referring to its traditional place on the Lent food table. Its first recorded appearance (as chipotle, i.e. smoke-dried jalapeño) is in the Florentine Codex manuscript, where priest and ethnographer Bernardino de Sahagún reported how popular peppers were with Aztecs in the 16th century: they were used in cooking, medicine and certain cultural ceremonies. Nowadays, jalapeños are grown extensively across Mexico and the thick-walled fruits are known worldwide. Although they are usually eaten at the green stage, either fresh or pickled, the fruits ripen to red and are amazingly sweet when allowed to do so (Scoville units: 2.500-8.000).