Romaine or cos lettuce (
Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia) is a
variety of lettuce that grows in a tall head of sturdy dark green
leaves with firm ribs down their centers. Unlike most lettuces, it is
tolerant of heat. It is more nutritious than iceberg lettuce. In North
America, romaine is sold as whole heads or as "hearts" that have had
the outer leaves removed and are often packaged together.
1 Origin and etymology
2 Ritual use
5 Food safety issues
6 Other trivia
9 External links
Origin and etymology
In British English, it is commonly known as "cos" lettuce, and in
North America as "romaine" lettuce. Many dictionaries trace the
word cos to the name of the Greek island of Cos, from which the
lettuce was presumably introduced. Other authorities trace cos to
the Arabic word for lettuce, khus خس [xus].
It apparently reached the West via Rome, as in Italian it is called
lattuga romana and in French laitue romaine, both meaning "Roman
lettuce". Hence the name "romaine", the common term in North American
For 3000 years (from at least 2700 BC), cos lettuce was
associated with the ancient Egyptian god of fertility, Min, for its
resemblance to the phallus.
Romaine lettuce may be used in the
Passover Seder as a type of bitter
herb. It symbolises the bitterness inflicted by the Egyptians while
Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
Romaine is a common salad green, and is the usual lettuce used in
Romaine lettuce is commonly used in Middle Eastern
cuisine. Romaine, like other lettuces, may also be cooked. For
example, it can be braised or made into soup. The thick ribs,
especially on the older outer leaves, should have a milky fluid that
gives the romaine its typically bitter herb taste.
In North American supermarkets, romaine is widely available
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
72 kJ (17 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
As with other dark leafy greens, the antioxidants found in romaine
lettuce are believed to help prevent cancer.
Food safety issues
From November 2017 through January 2018, the Public Health Agency of
Canada (PHA) identified romaine as being linked to illness in 41
persons in Canada. A probably related outbreak affected 25 people
in 15 states of the U.S. who ate leafy greens, but the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) were unable to confirm that it was romaine
in particular. There was one death. The disease agent was Shiga
toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7. The most recent illness started on
December 12, 2017; the PHA declared the outbreak over on January 10,
2018, and the CDC declared it over on January 25.
The day of 22 Germinal in the
French Republican Calendar
French Republican Calendar was dedicated
to this lettuce, as "Romaine".
^ Walker, Norman Wardhaugh (1970). "Cos or Romaine
Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices: What's Missing in Your Body?. Book
Publishing Company. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
^ Oxford English Dictionary, First Edition, 1893, s.v. 'cos'
^ a b Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-211579-0. Cos lettuces are probably
not named for the island of
Kos but for the Arabic word for
^ Smith, K. Annabelle (16 July 2013). "When
Lettuce Was a Sacred Sex
Symbol". Smithsonian Museum. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
^ Bradshaw, Paul; Hoffman, Lawrence (August 19, 2000). "Towards a
History of the Paschal Meal". Passover and Easter: Origin and History
to Modern Times. University of Notre Dame Press.
^ Eisenberg, Ronald L. (2010). Jewish Traditions: A JPS Guide. Jewish
Publication Society. p. 286. ISBN 0827610394.
^ a b Bittman, Mark (2 April 2010). "The Charms of the Loser
Lettuces". New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
^ Bittman, Mark (2 April 2010). "Braised Romaine Hearts". Retrieved 27
January 2018. (Registration required (help)).
^ "AICR's Foods That Fight Cancer: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables".
American Institute for Cancer Research.
^ "Public Health Notice – Outbreak of E. coli infections linked to
romaine lettuce", Public Health Agency of Canada, February 9, 2018
^ "Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli
O157:H7 Infections Linked to Leafy Greens (Final Update)", Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, posted January 25, 2018
^ Tooke, William (1855). The Monarchy of France: its rise, progress,
and fall. London: Sampson Low & Son. p. 634.
Kirschmann, John D. & Dunne, Lavon J. Nutrition Almanac, s.v.
The dictionary definition of romaine at Wiktionary