[Sca-cooks] Mint Water

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sun Jun 3 20:58:45 PDT 2007

> Terry Decker wrote:
>> Since mint derives from Old German probably from the Latin, menta, . . 
>> .likely that
>> the Legions brought mint to England.

> My earliest reference to mint is in the Bible: Luke 11:42 "But woe to
> you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass
> justice and the love of God."  As it is so commonly recorded,
> henceforth, not only by Pliny and Apicius but elsewhere I would hesitate
> to state that the Romans took it anywhere. I think it was just there
> throughout Europe.
> Suey

The question was specifically about mint in Medieval Europe, so the biblical 
reference has no particular validity in the response.  The writings of the 
Romans and the etymology of the word mint suggest that it was known in 
Medieval Europe, which has been confirmed by a recipe calling for it.

I did say it was likely that the Romans brought the plant to England.  You 
seem to assume that I meant that the Romans spread it all over the Empire, 
which was not what was stated.  The Gospel of Luke is presumably a late-1st 
Century text.  Cato, who mentions mint in his writings, predates Luke by 
almost 300 years.  Pliny and Martial are contemporaneous with Luke.  And, I 
don't recall a mention of mint in Apicius, but I haven't checked as the text 
is either 1st or 5th Century, depending on your opinions of the dates.  The 
facts presented here can not confirm or deny whether the Romans spread mint 
over the Empire.

I suspect that mint in its many species and varieties was ubiquitous in the 
Mediterranean Basin in Antiquity and that it's use was not confined to one 
time, one culture, or one place.  The derivation of mint from the Latin 
suggests that the use, if not the plant, was introduced to the Germanic 
tribes by the Romans, but without more evidence, that is an unproven 
contention.  Based on the physical isolation of the British Isles, the 
introduction of other food stuffs by the Romans, and a lack of references to 
mint prior to the Romans, the introduction of mint to England by way of the 
Legions is a reasonable conjecture.


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