Native to the Middle East, poppy flowers were cultivated as far back as the earliest civilizations. The ancient Sumerians grew poppies, and the seeds are mentioned in ancient medical texts from many civilizations. Poppy seeds have long been used as a folk remedy to aid sleeping, promote fertility and wealth, and even to provide supposed magical powers of invisibility.
In Europe and America, blue or black colored poppy seeds are used principally for sweets and in baking. Add poppy seeds to cookies, cakes, breads and muffins to add a nutty flavor and texture. More adventuresome cooks use poppy seeds to flavor vegetables and sauces.