ASAFOETIDA was familiar in the early Mediterranean, having come by land across Iran and Afghanistan. Though it is generally forgotten now in Europe, it is still widely used in India. It emerged into Europe from an expedition of Alexander the Great, who, after returning from a trip to north eastern ancient Persia, thought they had found a plant almost identical to the famed silphium of Cyrene in North Africa—though less tasty. Discords, in the first century, wrote, "the Cyrenaic kind, even if one just tastes it, at once arouses a humour throughout the body and has a very healthy aroma, so that it is not noticed on the breath, or only a little; but the Median [Iranian] is weaker in power and has a nastier smell." Nevertheless, it could be substituted for silphium in cooking, which was fortunate, because a few decades after Discords' time, the true silphium of Cyrene became extinct, and asafoetida became more popular amongst physicians, as well as cooks.