[Sca-cooks] My dinner de-brief

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sun Jun 3 12:03:41 PDT 2012

>> On Jun 3, 2012, at 3:44 AM, Laura C. Minnick wrote:
>>> On 6/2/2012 10:04 PM, David Friedman wrote:
>>>> Where are you imagining the feast happening? Lemons might have been 
>>>> available in Italy, but I'm not sure how much farther north. Wikipedia 
>>>> claims that lemons entered Europe no later than the 1st century AD, but 
>>>> were not widely cultivated, and that  " The first substantial 
>>>> cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 
>>>> 15th century."
>>> Lemons travel pretty well, and in my time period the Franks had control 
>>> of Lombardy, which extended quite a ways into Italy. I'm also looking to 
>>> citrus on the Iberian peninsula, but that is sketchier- the Saracens 
>>> weren't exactly fans of Charles and I don't know how much trade there 
>>> was with them, if any.
>>> snip
>>> Liutgard
> Ok, Art, Culture, and Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy  By Phyllis 
> Pray Bober talks about Carolingian foods.
> She writes on page 213 that 'St. Gall relied on supplies "from only two of 
> its distant holdings, while it could rely on imports of lemons, olives, 
> pomegranates, and dates from allied southern brethren at the great 
> monastery of Bobbio in Lombardy." Footnote is 34.
> That reads: " Horn and Born. The Plan of St. Gall, 2:208; Sorrensen, 
> "Garten und Pflanzen."
> Johnnae

AFAIK, the Wikipedia claim that lemons entered Europe no later than the 1st 
Century is based on the depicition of a lemon tree found in the "House of 
the Fruit Orchard" in Pompeii, that was painted between 62 and 79 CE.  The 
earliest date I would ascribe to the lemon in Europe would be 325 BCE with 
Alexander's campaign into the Indus Valley.  I would suggest that "the first 
substantial cultivation" should be "the first recorded substantial 
cultivation," as I vaguely recall that citrus fruits were being traded in 
Nice around 1330.

There was quite a bit more trade between Carolingian Gaul and Islamic Iberia 
than one would think.  Andalusia was the western terminus of the east-west 
Islamic trade and in later years, a major manufacturer of textile exports. 
Much of this trade, especially in the early years was conducted by the 
Radanites, Jewish traders, who operated from Europe to China and from the 
Baltic to Arabia and India.  Being outside of the Moslem-Christian conflict, 
they could trade with everyone.  They disappear around the 11th Century with 
growing competition from the Italian trade cities in the West and with 
almost a century of political and social disruption across Asia beginning 
with the fall of the Tang Dynasty in the early 10th Century.


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