The name comes from the latin lens, a term that has since been borrowed to describe the optical lens, named after the lentil's similar shape. Lentils were popular in the diet of the Romans and Greeks, particularly the poor, and the obelisk which now stands in the centre of St Peter's Square at the Vatican was said to be shipped from the banks of the Nile, nestled in 1.3 million kilograms of lentils. These days, the humble lentil has been embraced by modern-day gourmands, in particular the Du Puy, a small green lentil of French origin that goes perfectly with salted pork. The larger green or brown lentil is more common, while the red lentil is bright orange and often sold split - this colour fades to yellow during cooking.
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