[Sca-cooks] Melons in England

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Mon Aug 4 12:55:24 PDT 2008

Terry Decker wrote:
> The Oxford Companion to Food says melons (Cucumis melo) were introduced into 
> England in the 16th Century where they were grown "under glass bells, in 
> greenhouses or 'steam-pits.'"
> Melons have been cultivated on and off in southern Europe since Roman times 
> and were certainly reintroduced into the area by the Arabs.  The first 
> medieval European reference seems to be Albertus Magnus in the 13th Century.
> Bear
L.Cucumis melo, Ar. destbuya or betti-h, Fr. melon, Eng. melon. It is a native of Jordan, which was imported to other countries under Roman domination. In Spain, Arabs introduced it from Egypt around 825 and it was first cultivated in Añover del Tajo, an al-Andalus town, no longer existing, named for a village near Rome. It became a symbol in Muslim Spain for the excellent crops produced there in the Middle Ages. Melon was frequently eaten in León during the 10th C. Villena (15th C)instructs to slice it lengthwise and remove the pits. He says it can be cut horizontally into rounds but it is better lengthwise. It has been said that Holy Roman Emperors Albert, Frederick III and Henry IV of Germany and Pope Paul II died as result of eating too much melon. Avenzoar explains that the melon may experience a noxious transformation generating a humor similar to poison if when eaten this occurs. The meal in the stomach prevents the melon from leaving it. The chances of this happening are less than one in 1,000. Luis Lobera de Avila, court physician of Charles V of Hapsburg wrote in his medical manual of 1530 that melon seeds are humid and were used to reduce fever and to expel kidney stones. [Bolens. 1990:34; ES: Carroll-Mann.Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 74; ES: Chu. Oct 13, 02; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:86-88; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:161 and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:42b]
Villena also mentions watermelon but I have no reference to cantloupe through th 15th C. except for Columbus taking a variety a America (its a wonder his ships ever made it out of Huelva he took so much food) Actually cantaloupe really seems to take off during the 18th C from Italy. 

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