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Jul 20, 2004 10:41 AM

What are rocket leaves?

  • s

Someone posted some recipes for fresh figs and one calls for rocket leaves. I've not heard of that. Also, oak leaves was in another.

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  1. Rocket is the proper English language name for arugula. Cooks and cookbooks are gradually migrating towards using rocket instead of arugula.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      It's my understanding that Arugula is the Italian name for the vegetable, and Rocket is the British name.

      1. re: Karl S.

        Yes, it's another name for Arugula.

        1. re: rien

          Other names, by the way, are roquette, rugula and rucola. Not sure of the geography in which each is used ... but, roquette definitely looks French. It's a pretty safe bet that the English/British word, rocket, is derived from this source.


        2. re: Karl S.

          from one american eye, a silly decision, if so.

          1. re: jen kalb

            The thinking is that, we don't call carrots or cucumbers (et cetera) by their Italian or French names: we call them by their English names. Rocket is not a distinctively Italian vegetable (though its revival in the USA has accidently largely come from exposure in Italian-inspired cookery -- then again, we don't call eggplants melanzane in the USA, either....), so I can understand this move as quite logical.

            1. re: Karl S.

              Well, we don't always use the English names either. Marrow, anyone? And in England, a lot of vegetables are referred to by their French names - aubergines, for example - while we use the English versions in the States. I accept both rocket and arugula, of course, but considering that in the States at least, the name "arugula" is much more well-known, I don't see any need to bother with a deliberate attempt to change to rocket. Language is rarely logical or systematic.

              1. re: curiousbaker

                succhini is an excellent example of a similar situation - vegetable marrows anyone?

                "aubergine" and "rocket" are both essentially examples of the british following the french

                why make an attempt to ape the british, instead of assimilating languages our own natural way? the only point to uniform nomenclature would be in publishing - and here, we are a larger market by far and make no attempt to conform to the UK in most food nomenclature or weights and measures.

                The second possibility is that "rocket" is somehow considered the common term whereas "arugula" is the foreign hence difficult and unfamiliar term. A version of plain language thinking/dumbing down the text The NYTimes garden editors seem to believe this is necessary when they insist on the usage of "common" names for plants when gardeneners have long since become comfortable with and expect more precise botanical nomenclature. "Black eyed susan" vs. the specification of any number of different rudbeckias, for example.

        3. I just came back from italy, and they put it on top of pizza!!! I tried it and it was so delicious i had an arugula pizza every afternoon! it is not cooked on top, just placed on top when the pizza comes out of the oven.

          It is usually in 'spring mix' salad - has a wonderful nutty/peppery flavor.

          1. I suspect oak leaves refers to oak leaf lettuce. The leaves really look like oak leaves. I've seen it both red and green.