Fennel is a herbaceous plant in the Carrot family, characterised by a large bulbous white stalk, which is the edible part. There are two types of fennel: nostrane (small and round) and grosso (larger and oval).
The first group includes the Rotondo Siciliano (or Riccio) and the Romanesco.
The second includes the mild Florence and large Bologna varieties. Fennel is usually eaten raw, as documented since the 17th century, and its renowned digestive and decongestant properties have lasted through the ages.
But if you’re offered raw fennel before a wine tasting, be careful! The flavour of fennel confuses the tastebuds and “any bad wine is made to taste good”.