[Sca-cooks] Lemons? Limes? Confusion?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sat Jul 5 17:33:34 PDT 2008

>I don't own a book on the history of citrus, which i understand can
> be difficult to study because of the ease with which all citrus plants 
> hybridize/cross-breed with others, since they both self- and 
> cross-pollinate, and they develop spontaneous mutations (e.g. the navel 
> orange).
> So i was mystified when some historical sources mentioned that limes were 
> taken to the Caribbean by the Spanish in the early 1500s. Mystified 
> because i don't recall coming across any recipes for limes in my reading 
> of SCA-period European recipes, although there are enough calling for 
> lemons.

Any idea of the precise wording in the original text and whether or not it 
was badly translated?

I suspect the source for the 1500 date may be Oviedo, y Valdez, Gonzales 
Fernandes de, "Historia general y natural de las
Indies, Islas y Tierra-Firma del Mar Oceano"; Toledo, 1526.  No hard 
evidence, but this is a primary source for a lot of the dates concerning 
food stuffs in the New World.

The words lime and lemon both seem to derive from a Persian, so the fruit 
probably moved into the Mediterranean basin no later than 1000 CE.  In my 
opinion there is a high probability that they were there quite some time 
before that.  I also think that they would have been early transplants to 
the Spanish New World.

> I wonder if this could be because the name for lemon and lime are very 
> similar, both in Arabic and in most European languages, so limes may have 
> been substitute in recipes calling for lemons.
> Can anyone clarify this mystery and alleviate my confusion?
> Does anyone know of any specific recipes calling for limes?
> -- 
> Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
> the persona formerly known as Anahita

I know of no specific recipes calling for limes.  The confusion about the 
similarity in the names appears to go back to the Persian roots.


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list