[Sca-cooks] Potatoes in Europe was Re: Four queries

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Tue Jul 10 12:35:26 PDT 2012

When I originally wrote about the bill of lading I hadn't seen it.  I have 
since been gifted with further information including a facsimile and a 
transcription and translation of the particular line.

The bill of lading is for goods shipped by Juan de Molina from Las Palmas in 
the Canaries to his brother, Luis de Quesada, in Antwerp.  The original is 
in the archives of the public notary, Lorenzo Palenzuela, dated 28 November 
1567 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.  It reads, "`Y asi mismo recibo tres 
barriles medianos [que] decis Ileven patatas y naranjas e lemones berdes". 
Which translates as, "And also three medium-sized barrels [which] you state 
contain potatoes and oranges and green lemons".  Linguistic notes state that 
"papas" and "patatas" are contemporary references to white potatoes in the 
Canaries, while the sweet potato is still "batata."

So, not only do we have potatoes being sent to Antwerp, but also oranges and 
green lemons (limes?)

There is also a bill of lading reference to two barrels of potatoes and 8 
barrels of brandy being shipped to Rouen in Apr. 1574 (archives of public 
notary Luis de Balboa).

The speculation is the potatoes were being grown in the Canaries by 1562 and 
possibly earlier, but they weren't being grown in mainland Spain, thus were 
not observed by Clusius in 1564.  Subspecies found in the Canaries are S. 
andigena (Andean origin, but grown in Europe), S. tuberosum (European 
hybrid) and S. chaucha (a South American varietal not grown in Europe 
outside of plant collections, therefore almost assuredly a direct SA 

And just for fun as a reference to the Tudor banana, "This iland hath 
singular good wine, especially in the towne of Telde, and sundrie sortes of 
good frutes, as batata, mellons, peares, apples, orenges, lemmons, 
pomegranads, figs, peaches of diverse sortes, and many other fruites; but 
especiallye the platano . . ." Thomas Nichols (1583).

> - the reference to potatoes in Antwerp in 1567.
> In Service to the Dream,
> Thorvald Grimsson

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