What’s Swiss chard, anyway?

Good question, reader Hillary. It isn’t Swiss, for starters. It’s not clear where it’s from originally, most likely somewhere in the Mediterranean. It’s often claimed to have been appreciated by the ancient Greeks, though it’s really hard to say. Chard has gone by so many names over the centuries. A kind of beet green is what chard actually is. You can see the linguistic connection in the name of this week’s project: bietole…beet greens, in Italian (the word is used interchangeably for both chard and beet greens). See what I mean?

But then why then is it “Swiss” chard? So it’s said, 19th century seed marketers called it that to distinguish it from French varieties of Spinach which had similar names. But the French word for spinach is épinard, or so I recall from French class, so I don’t know how that argument gets from point A to point B. Anyone with insights into that, please weigh in.

2 thoughts on “What’s Swiss chard, anyway?”

  1. We call it silverbeet in New Zealand. It comes only after Brussels sprouts in most childrens’ lists of loathed vegetables.

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