Beloved things, including foods, often garner a number of nicknames over the years. This is certainly true for arugula, which is known by several different names.
One common nickname for it is rocket. You might be asking yourself, why is arugula called rocket salad?
We’ve investigated the origins of the name, and will be sharing our findings with you in this article.
Quick Answer: Why is Arugula Called Rocket Salad?
There are a couple main theories behind the name rocket in regards to arugula. The first one is that the name refers to how quickly arugula grows.
But the more detailed theory posits that it came from the word “roquette,” which was what arugula is called in France.
Read Also: Is Arugula Rucola?
Evolution of the Name Rocket
Arugula has been popular in the area known as Italy today for hundreds of years. The earliest names for arugula come from there, including the roots for the name rocket.
Ruchetta was a name for arugula for a period of time. Eventually, as the leafy green spread to France, the word adapted to its French surroundings. This is when the word “roquette” was born.
As centuries passed, arugula continued to spread. When it reached English-speaking countries, the “qu” part of the word roquette was adapted for English. That’s how the word became “rocket.”
It’s worth mentioning that arugula grows legendarily fast. It can germinate in as little as a few days, and be ready to harvest in a just a few weeks. This speed is another reason why some refer to arugula as rocket.
What Else is Arugula Called?
Having been well-known for so long, arugula has amassed a lot of other nicknames. Rocket is just the tip of the iceberg here.
Roquette is still a name for it in France. Likewise, ruchetta still exists in modern terminology, too.
Rucola is another name for arugula. You may not have heard this, though, unless you’ve ever been to Italy. In certain parts of Italy, this salad green commonly goes by the name rucola instead, although there are some people in the states who call it that, especially if they emigrated from Italy.
Centuries ago in Italy, arugula was also called “eruca.” This is the Latin word for “caterpillar,” and refers to how the plant was vulnerable to caterpillar infestations.
There’s a common trend you might be noticing here: most of arugula’s aliases come from Italy. This is almost certainly due to the fact that the vegetable has been popular there for far longer than it has been elsewhere.
Arugula is a plant of many names. Whether you call it arugula, rucola, roquette, rocket, or even eruca, there’s one thing that doesn’t change: the spicy, desirable taste.
In time, we may even see more nicknames for arugula develop, especially since it is now enjoying some much-deserved popularity all over the world.