[Sca-cooks] sugar and rice in Iberia

Volker Bach carlton_bach at yahoo.de
Wed Jul 4 03:43:45 PDT 2007

Bear in mind that 711 is the year of the first
landing, so dating these things to that year is
similar to linking tobacco in Europe to 1492 or
bubblegum in Germany to 1944 - there is a point, but
it must be taken in context. The Arab conquest of
Spain was remarkably speedy, but nonetheless we need
to look past the 730s for even the first generation of
invaders to begin settling down into anything like a
comfortable pattern. Then the question poses itself
when the settlers and their descedants were
established enough to influence broader society with
their habits. Initially, they were strangers in a
strange land and felt that way themselves. Richard
Fletcher speculates that the tipping point lay
somewhere in the 9th/early 10th century. Before that
time, even if both crops had been introduced, they
would have been limited to market gardens catering to
the foreign elite (and with strong trade flows in the
9th century, there's no reason they couldn't have been
imported). Of course, by the twelfth century sugar and
rice are common crops, so the introduction can't have
been much later, either. 

Also, there's little reason to think the Visigoths
were unaware of rice or sugar even if they didn't
produce either. 

711? Rice and sugar in Europe, even if you include
Iberia, that  
early?  That is much earlier than I had gathered from
discussions. I'm surprised they wouldn't have spread
north from there  
within centuries of then. I got the impression from
discussions that both came in from the east, not from
the southwest.  
Or is this complicated by the fact that while known in
Spain they  
weren't really widely used because they were still
items that had to  
be imported from the east?

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