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Food Timeline> Fruit

Fruit or vegetable? (definitions through time)

  • apples
  • apricots
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • bergamot
  • blood oranges
  • blueberries
  • Buddah's hand
  • cherries
  • citron
  • coconuts
  • Concord grapes
  • crab apples
  • cranberries
  • dates
  • gooseberries
  • grapefruit
  • grapes
  • Key limes
  • kiwi fruit
  • lemons
  • limes
  • Mandarin oranges
  • mangoes
  • maraschino cherries
  • Meyer lemons
  • must
  • oranges
  • pawpaws
  • peaches
  • pears
  • persimmons
  • pineapples
  • plantains
  • pomegranates
  • quinces
  • rhubarb
  • Ugli fruit
  • verjuice
  • watermelon

  • NOTE: Rhubarb is botanically classed as a vegetable. We include it here because most Americans today use it as a fruit.

    What's the difference between fruits & vegetables?
    Excellent question with several answers. The "correct answer" depends upon who you ask: botanist, linguist, culinary professional, legal professional average or consumer. Period and place also matter. In the most general terms, vegetable is the broader term, encompassing all edible plant matter. Fruit is a subset of this larger group. In practice, definitions fall in two camps:
    1. Scientific classification...fruits are result in flowers, or have pits/seeds/stones.
    2. Culinary application...vegetables are part of the main meal (savory) & fruits are dessert (sweet).
    Botanically speaking, tomatoes (eggplants, cucumbers, melons, squash, peas, beans) are fruits. Culinary applications reasonably argue these plants are vegetables. Major culinary texts/cookbooks through time don't bother offering definitions. We have to think there is some wisdom in that.

    Historic fruit/vegetable defintions through time

    "Fruit. 1. The product of a tree or plant in which the sees are contained."
    "Vegetable. Anything that has growth without sensation, as plants. Vegetables are organized bodies consisting of various parts, containing vessels furnished with different juices; and taking in their nourishment from without, usually by means of a root, by which they are fixed to the earth, or to some body, as in the generality of plants, sometimes by means of pores distributed over the whole surface, as in sub-marine plants."
    ---Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson, facsimile 1755 edition [AMS Press:New York] 1967 (unpaged)

    Mrs. Lincon's Boston Cook Book offers a chapter titled "Fruit" with some general serving notes and recipes. She does not define fruit but she does list examples: Apples, Oranges, Grapes, Bananas, Peaches, Srtawberries, Currants, Watermelons, Pineapples, Raisins, Pears, Quinces, Rhubarb, Prunes, Cranberries, Huckleberries, Currants, Crab-Apples, Grapes, Damsons or Greengages, Rapsberries, Blackberries, Cherries" (p. 391-403)

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled tomatoes are vegetables in
    Nix v Hedden, 149 US 304, 1893.

    " its widest sense, any product of the soil that can be enjoyed by man or animals...Between this wide and frequently figurative use of the word and its application in the strict botanical sense treated below, there is a popular meaning, regarding the objects denoted by the word entirely from the standpoint of edibility, and differentiating them roughly from those other products of the soil, which, regarded similarly, are known as vegetables. In this sense, 'fruit' is applied to such seed-envelopes of plants as are edible, either raw or cooked, and are usually sweet, juicy or of a refreshing flavour. But applications of the word in this sense are apt to be loose and shifting according to the fashion of the time. Fruit, in the botanical sense, is developed from the flower as the result of fertilization of the ovule. After fertilization various changes take place in the parts of the flower...In popular language, the fruit includes all those parts which exhibit a striking change as the result of fertilization. In general, the fruit is not ripened unless fertilization has been effected; but cases occur as the result of cultivation in which the fruit swells and becomes to all appearances perfect, while no seeds are produced. Thus, there are seedless oranges, grapes and pineapples. When the ovules are unfertilized, it is common to find that the ovary withers and does not come to maturity; but in the case of bananas, plantains and breadfruit, the...development of seeds seems to lead to a larger growth and a greater succulence of the fruit."
    " a general term from plants, and specifically, in language, of such plants as can be eaten by man...whether cooked or raw, and whether the whole or cuch are edible,or only the leaves of the roots or tubers, such edible or culinary plants or portions of plants, a distinction is made popularly between 'fruits' and 'vegetables,'..."
    ---Encyclopedia Britannica [Encyclopedia Britannica Company:New York] 11th edition, 1911

    "Fruit. 1. In the widest sense, any product of plant growth useful to man or woman, as grain, vegetable, cotton, flax, etc., 2. The edible, more or less succulent, product of a perennial or woody plant, consisting of the ripened seeds and adjacent tissues, or of the latter also. In popular usage, there is no exact distinction between a fruit and a vegetable, except there the latter consists of the them, leaves, and root of the plant. Thus, the apple, pear, orange, lemon, peach, plum, grape, banana, persimmon pineapple, and most berries are generally recognized as fruits; the pea, bean, pumpkin, squash, eggplant, cucumber, etc., are vegetables; while the tomato, melon and rhubarb are variously regarded." (p. 1014)
    Vegetable. A plant; specif. , in common usage, a herbaceous plant cultivated for food, as the cabbage, turnip, potato, bean, etc.; also the edible part or parts of such plants, as prepared for market or table. There is no well-drawn distinction between vegetables and the popular sense; but it has been held by the courts that all those which, like potatoes, carrots, peas, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. are eaten (whether cooked or raw) during the principal part of the meal are to be regarded as vegetable, while those used only for dessert are fruits." (p. 2823)
    ---Webster's New International Dictionary, unabridged, 2nd edition [G.C. Merriam:Springfield MA] 1957

    "Fruit. The seed-bearing product of a plant, simple, compound, or aggregated, of whatever form."
    ---Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition [D. Van Nostrand Co,.:New York] 1970 (p. 1575)
    [NOTE: This book does not offer a separated definition for vegetable.]

    "Fruit. Botanically, a fruit is a mature ovary of a flower. It contains the seed or seeds. it may or may not be edible, juicy, fleshy, or quite dry. Fruits come in many forms; some of the most familiar are achenes, berries, capsules, nuts, and pods. Some plant parts commonly called fruits, such a s blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and pineapples, are really conglomerates of numerous little fruits each developed from a separate ovary. In this Encyclopedia the term fruit is used for these as well as for what are more correctly single fruits."
    ---New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia, edited by Thomas H. Everett [Garland Publishing:New York] Volume 4, 1981 (p. 1414)
    [NOTE: This book does not offer a separated definition for vegetable.]

    "Vegetable took on its current sense just a few centuries ago, and essentially means a plant materials that is neither fruit nor seed. So what is a fruit? The word has both a technical and a common meaning. Beginning in the 17th century, botanists defined it as the organ that develops from the flower's ovary and surrounds the plant's seeds. But in common usage, seed-surrounding green beans, eggplants, cucumbers, and corn kernels are called vegetables, not fruits. Even the United States Supreme Court has preferred the cook's definition over the botanists. In the 1890s, a New York food importer claimed duty-free status for a shipment of tomatoes, arguing that tomatoes were fruits, and so under the regulations of the time, not subject to import fees. The customs agent ruled that tomatoes were vegetables and imposed a duty. A majority of the Supreme Court decided that tomatoes were 'usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meat, which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits, generally as dessert.'"
    ---On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee, completely revised and updated edition [Scribner:New York] 2004 (p. 247-248)

    "Fruits are the ovaries that surround or contain the seeds of plants. Customarily used in sweet dishes, fruits are also excellent with savory items, such as potato latkes and grilled pork chops. Fruit is wonderful served alone as a refreshing breakfast or a finale to a meal. Dried fruits find their way into compotes, stuffings, and sauces.
    "Vegetables are the roots, tubers, stems, leaves, leaf stalks, seeds, seedpods, and flour heads of plants that may be safely eaten. Vegetables commonly include a number of foods that botanically are classified as fruits, such as tomatoes. Their culinary application is the guiding principle for placing them in this section, rather than the previous one."
    ---The Professional Chef, Culinary Institute of America, 8th edition [John Wiley:New York] 2006 (p. 227)

    "Fruit 1. Vegetable products in general, that are fit to be used as food by men and animals. Now usually in pl. Also fruits of the earth or the ground .2. The edible product of a plant or tree, consisting of the seed and its envelope, esp. the latter when it is of a juicy pulpy nature, as in the apple, orange, plum, etc. †tree of fruit = fruit tree n. at Compounds 2.As denoting an article of food, the word is popularly extended to include certain vegetable products that resemble ‘fruits’ in their qualities, e.g. the stalks of rhubarb.
    Vegetable 1. a. Any living organism that is not an animal; (in later use) spec. one belonging to the plant kingdom...3. A plant or fungus cultivated for food; esp. an edible part of a herbaceous plant (as a leaf, stem, or root) which typically forms (part of) the savoury course of a meal, served either in a cooked or raw state; such a plant or plant part prepared for eating. Freq. in pl."
    ---Oxford English Dictionary (online, accessed May 20, 2013)

    Wild apples grew in prehistoric times. Food historians generally agree they originated in the Caucauses. The fruit was introduced to Europe by the Roman legions. They were actively cultivated. Apples are considered one of America's symbols because they are prominently featured in recipes throughout our nation's history. Apple origins and dispersion is generally revealed through archaolgica, rather than etymological, evidence. This is because early words denoting round tree fruit did not necessarily distinguish between specific fruits and varieties.
    Crab apples are said to be the ancestor of cultivated appples.

    "Of the tree fruits, the apple is known to have been widely cultivated from an early date. The wild varieties were also much in demand by early peoples, carbonized apples from about 6500BC have been found at Catal Huyuk in Anatolia. The Swiss prehistoric lake-dwellings revealed not only large quantities of sour crabs which seem to have been a very important food at the time, but also larger ones which appear to have been of a cultivated variety. These were mainly cut into two pieces, which suggests that they were dried, while the smaller ones were left whole...The apple seems to be indigenous mainly in the area extending through Anatolia to parts of Persia, and we know that the Hittites cultivated apple-trees at an early date. Apples were grown in Mesopotamia, and in Egypt; Ramesses II (early thirteenth century BC) had apple-trees planted in gardens laid out in the Nile delta...From Greece we have no archaeological evidence to show how early they were used, but the classical writers make it clear that by Homeric times orchard husbandry and gardening were well established. Theophrastus knew two apple Pliny's time about thirty-six kinds of apple were known, and certain long-keeping ones selected for storing."
    ---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore MD] 1998 (p. 132-133)

    "Apple, tree fruit important in ancient food and religion. Wild apples (crab-apples) of the European wild species gradually spread from northern Anatolia after the last ice age. Apples were in due course transplanted, or grown from seed, far to the south of their native habitat, in Mesopotamia in particular, where strings of sliced dried apples are described in literary sources and have been found by archaeologists. In the Near East in the third and second millennia BC the apple was important in cookery, in medicine and also in love charms. There is no evidence that grafting was known at that period, and it is not known at what date cultivated apple varieites of modern type spread westwards from Cental Asia, where they originate. In Greece the apple was a typical orchard fruit, at least from the Odyssey (c.700 BC) onwards..."
    ---Food in the Ancient World From A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 19)

    "The large, sweet apple familiar in modern times is essentially a cultivated product, much changed from the tiny, sour fruits, such as those of the crabapple, which were its wild ancestors...The original wild crabapple of not the direct ancestor of the cultivated apple...The main ancestor of the modern apple was M. Pumila var mitis, a native of the Caucasus where it still grown wild. Early, small, apples were pale green, yellow, or red and consisted principally of core, the part of the apple which is sueful for the tree's reproduction..The first written mentions of apples, in Homer's Odyssey, is not specific, since the Greek would melon is used for almost any kind of round fruit which grows on a tree. In later Greek writings a distinction was based between the apple and the related quince, which had been browing in the E. Mediterranean region before the arrival of the apple...The Bible is not specific about the nature of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The notion that it was an apple came much later, possibly because of the high opinion of the apple which was general in Roman times...The Romans considered the apple a luxury fruit...After the fall of the Roman Empire the cultivation of apples lapsed into dissaray...apples continued to be brown, and certain distinct types were recognized...Grafting was reintroduced and became systematic by the 16th century."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davison, 2nd edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 2007 (p. 26-7)

    "The Romans introduced new economic plants. They had already developed several apple varieties, with fruits smaller than those of today but larger and sweeter than those borne by Britain's indigenous wild crabs...Their apple varieties included types for good keeping, and villa owners stored them spread out in rows in a dry, well-ventilated loft...Apples were sliced into two or three pieces with a red or bone knife (since metal stained the fruit), and were put to lie in the sun."(p. 325-6)..."One of the earliest named apples was the pearmain, recorded soon after 1200. The copstard, a very large apple, was popular from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. It was sold in the streets fo London by costermongers...By the fifteenth century pippins, pomewaters, bittersweets and blanderelles had become fashionable apple varieties. Several of the medieval apples were good keeping types; indeed, apples were preferred when they had been kept awhile and allowed to mellow." (p. 330-1)...Apples were pulped in the mortar and then put into tarts." (p. 334)
    ---Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991

    Apples in the New World
    "Peregrine White, the first child of English parents born in New England (on the Mayflower, as it sat in Cape Cod harbor in November 1620)planted an apple orchard from seed when he was twenty-eight years old. By this time, there were many apple orchards in the Masachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies. The array of fruit and vegetable seeds stowed in the first ships had...included apple seeds...the first apple orchard in the Massachusetts Bay region had been planted even before organized settlement began--in 1625 on a slope of what was to become Becon Hill in Boston by the clergyman William Blaxton. According to Ann Leighton, 'the first universally recognized New England apple' was the Blaxton's Yellow Sweeting... John Chapman (1774-1845) from Leominster, Massachusetts, better Johnny Appleseed. By the late 1790s, Chapman had established a apple tree nursery in northrwestern Pennsylvania and central Ohio and eastern Indiana, 'shrewdly judging along what routes pioneers would be likely to settle and planting apple seedlings just ahead of settlements which wich homesteaders coudl start their own orchards.'"
    ---America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking, Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill NC] 2004 (p. 200-202)

    In 1524, Verazzano, on the coast of what is supposed to be the present Massachusetts, mentions apples bu we know not to what fruit he could have referred. Apple seeds were in the Memorandum of 1629 of seeds to be sent the Massachusetts Company. In 1642, Peregrin White... planted apples at Marshfield. In 1639, Josselyn was treated with 'half a score very fair apples' from Governor's Island in Boston Harbor, though there was then 'not one apple tree nor pear tree planted yet in no part of the country but upon that island.' In 1635, at Cumberland, Rhode Island, a kind called Yellow Sweeting was originated. In 1635, as Josselyn states, Mr. Wolcott, a distinguished Connecticut magistrate, wrote that he made 'five hundred hogshead of cider' out of his own orchard in one year and yet this was not more than five years after his colony was planted...In Downing's Fruits, edition of 1866, some 643 varieties are noticed."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 476-477)

    Popular apple recipes: apple pie, apple sauce, apple butter, apple cider, apple crisp, apple sauce cakes & candied apples.

    Crab Apples
    Food historians tell us wild crab apples were the ancestors of cultivated

    "There are several species of wild fruit trees of the genus Malus...that produce small, brightly colored crab apples. The crab apple is the ancestor of cultivated apples and has been used as a food since prehistory."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 Volume Two (p. 1764)

    Why call it crab apple?
    "No one is too sure where this term for the small sour wild apple came from. All that is clear is that it has no connection with the crustacean of the same name. It first appears in the late fourteenth century, and the northern and Scottish from scrab suggets that it may be of Scandinavian origin (there is a Swedish dialect work skrabba for 'wild apple')."
    ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 93)

    Recommended reading:

    How the gooseberry got its name is a true etymological puzzle. We find the same plethora of origin accounts published in respected reference sources. When this happens, we embrace the stories. Makes the fruit even more intriguing, yes?

    "Gooseberry comes under the name of Currant or Curran, but may here obtain a word or two for itself. It is known in some of the English shires under the name Carberry, because it is red, or was known chiefly as red; of Feaberry, because it was deemed good for fevers: why it has been called Gooseberry is not so clear. The older herbalists always insisted that it was so called because it was used as a sauce for goose; and the analogy of wineberry and feaberry would see to bear them out. If this should not be satisfactory, we have to fall back upon the old English gorst, in modern English gorse, in Shakespeare, goss; an etymology which will at the same time account for the Scottish name of the berry, which varies between groset and grosart. The Scotch, it must be remembered, are great in gooseberries. It is a northern fruit. When there was not a tree nor a shrub to be found in the Shetland islands and the Orkneys, there were gooseberries in abundance...The gooseberry in cookery is used as a fruit pie; as a sauce for mackerel; and as Gooseberrry Fool. This last word does not mean a fool, but comes from the French fouler, to crush."
    ---Kettner's Book of the Table, E.S. Dallas, facsimile 1877 edition prefaced by Derek Hudson [Centaur Press Ltd.:London] 1868 (p. 220-221)

    "Gooseberries...The origin of its name is far from clear. The fact that in Tudor and Elizabethan times gooseberries were frequently used in stuffing geese makes it more likely than not that the word is simply a compound of goose and berry (it first appeared in print in 1532). However, it is also possible that it may have been an adaptation of French groseille, which was certainly borrowed into English in the 1500s and survived for several centuries, in Scotland and northern England as groser or groset and in other local areas as grozell. What does seem clear is that before the name gooseberry was adopted, the fruit was called thevethorn (a word applied originally, in Anglo-Saxon times, to the 'bramble'), and that thevethorn survived dialectally well into the nineteenth century, both as theabe, thepe, and thape in Scotland, Yorkshire, and East Anglia and in the slightly altered forms feaberry and dayberry. The humorous alternative name goosegog seems to have started life as yet another dialectal variant: it is first recorded in the glossaries of East Anglian words in the early nineteenth century."
    ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 144-145)

    "The origin of the gooseberry (Ribes grossularia...) and that of its name, is something of a mystery. The one that is cultivated is a Eurasian native that was apparently brought too France by the Normans in the tenth century. There--because it was made into a sauce to go with mackerel--the berry came to be known as groseille a maquereau ("currant for the mackerel"). The English name is thought to have been the result of using the berry to stuff roasted goose and accompanying the fish with a relish of gooseberries as well."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 Volume Two (p. 1779)

    "As for the English name, Johnson (1847) has a theory: 'Dr. Martyun considers the name was applied to this fruit, in consequence of its being employed as a saute for that bird. It is somewhat unfortunate for this derivation that it never been so used. It seems to me most probalby to be a corruption from the Dutch name Kruisbes, or Gruisbes, derived from Kruis, the Cross, and Bes, as Berry, becasue the fruit was ready for sue just after the Festival of the Invention of the Holy Cross; just as Kruissharing, in Dutch, is herring, caugth after the same festival.' The OED (Oxford English Dictionary...adheres to the derivation from goose, in favour of which it may be said that the sharpness of the gooseberry goes weil with a fatty or oily emeat (e.g. goose ro mackerel)."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 344-345)

    Gooseberry symbolism & lore
    "Gooseberries grew wild in Europe long ago, and it appears that the Europeans didn't begin to cultivate them before the sixteenth century. If the Greeks and Romans knew of them, they left nothing in their literature to indicate it...the Europeans used to say that babies were born under gooseberry bushes--a belief that might have originated farther east, in Iran. Scholars do find mention of gooseberries in legends from lands to the east of Europe; but currants--close relatives of gooseberries--also grow in the East where they seem tp have acieived amore prominent place in myth. According to the Iranian legend, the first humans come from a currant bush...Similarly Hindus held the Indian gooseberry bush sacred. In legend, the bush grew from the tears of two goddesses, Parvati and Lakshmi, who wanted so desperately to offer somethign new to Lord Shiva that they cried in frustration and the tree sprang up from their tears to provide an offering. The Sanskirt name for the Indian gooseberry is dhatrica or dhatri, which meant nurturing mother." ---Nectar and Ambosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 106)


  • Concord grapes
  • Flame Seedless grapes
  • grape juice
  • must
  • raisins
  • Thompson Seedless grapes
  • verjuice
  • vinegar
  • wine
  • What is a grape & where did it originate?
    "Botanically, the grape is a berry of any species of Vitis, the genus of the vine family that was growing wild over much of the earth long before there were humans about. In North America, the vines evolved toward the species V. Labrusca--the fox grape, one variety of which is the Concord grape. But practically all of the world's wine comes from varieties of a single Old World species, V. Vinifera--the vine that bears wine. It is though to have originated in Asia Minor and, as people early discovered (to their delight) that grapes and their juice ferment, has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. Perhaps the Egyptians initially exploited the grape on a large scale. New varieties were developed by the Greeks and, later, by the Romans, who first practiced grafting and who introduced the vines into the cooler regions of Europe, including what is now France."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Orneals [Cambridge Universtity Press:Cambridge] 2000 Volume Two (p. 1781)

    Old World grapes
    "Grape, fruit of the grape vine, useful as a fresh fruit, a dried fruit (raisin) and as the source of must and wine. In all these roles, but especially the last, the grape was a major component of the diet of the ancient Meditrranean. The grape vine is native to southern Europe and the Near and Middle East...The vine is thought to have been brought into cultivation in the Caucasus region...about 4000BC, although wine from wild grapes was already being made by that time. Cultivated varieties spread to norhtern Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and north Africa; also eastwards to Iran, Bactria and Sogdiana and (about 120 BC) onwards to China; also westwards through Anatolia and on to Greece and the Balkans, Italy and the western Mediterranean. It was under the Roman Empire that the vine was introduced to the Moselle and Rhine valles and to southern Britain. It is likely...that as knowledge of vine cultivation spread to new areas local wild grapes were taken into cultivation and crossed with already cultivated varieties...By classical times vine cultivation had reached a high level of skill...Smoked raisins were a Roman fovourite."
    ---Food in the Ancient World From A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:New York] 2003 (p. 163-164)
    [NOTE: Mr. Dalby profiles 29 different varietes of ancient grapes on pages 164-166).]

    "The European grape is found wild on theost of the Caspian, in Armenia and in Karamania. From Asia it passed into Greece and thence Sicily. The Phocians carried to the south of France; the Romas planted it on the banks of the Rhine. This grape is the most ancient culture... Its introduction into all parts of the world has but multiplied its peculiariaties. Virgil says 'we neither can recount how numerous the species, nor what are their names, nor imprts it to comprise their number...'...In the time of Chapta, about 1825, there were 1400 varieites enumerated in the luxembourg catalog obtained from France alone; the Geneva catalog numbered 600; Presl describes 44 varieties as cultivated in Sicily; Redding notices 12 kinds near Shriaz, Persia; and Burnes 10 kinds at Cabul. The Pinceau variety of France was known as long ago as 1394. Some believe that thevine was introduced into England by the Romans, while, according to others, it was first brought by the Phoenicians, who also have the credit of having transplanted it from Palestine to the islands of the Mediterranean. The earlist English chronicles make meniton of vineyards, and vine culture is said to have continued until the Rreformation; but the English climate is not suitable and the grape is grown only under glass except in a few favored locations."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon:Albany NY] 1919 (p 603)

    Grape symbolism & mythology--Old World "Since antiquity the grapevine has served as a symbol of the benevolent nature god. It was the gods' gift to human beings, full of the power to inspire and to lift the spirit to a higher realm. In ancient belief, the nature god revealed himself in the grapevine. The plant assumed such significance in life that people accepted it as a symbol of peace and abundance...the biblical 'Promised Land' was often called the Land of Grapes...For many, grapes symbolized fertility...In Indian myth they...represent the goddess of the earth. The ancient Egyptians also considered grapes a fertility sybmol and the grapevine a Tree of Life...Much of the symbolsm of grapes has to do with their use in making wine. Because red wine resembles blood, grapes came to symbolize blood sacrifice...for Christians, the blood of grapes came to symbolize the blood of Christ. Grapes and wine permeate Christan symbolism, with biblical references to vinyards, grapes, raisins, wine and vinegar numbering in the hundreds...Christian and Jewish myths generally credit Noah with the cultivation of the grapevine, and Egyptian myths gave Orisis this honor. In prersian myth, the grapevine sprang from the tail of the primordial bull slain by Mithras, and in Greek myth, it sprang form a stick buried by Orion's dog. But the most popular myth of cultivation features Dionysus, the jovial wine god, whom the people envisionsed crowned with grape leaves and carring a staff, or thrsos, wrapped in grapevines. According to legend, a snake taught Dionysus how to cultivate grapes and to make wine."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 109-111)

    Grapes in the New World
    "Although the Old World was the first to exploit it, the grape vine is a particularly American plant. Only one species of grape is to be found wild in Europe, while there are a few places in temperate North America...without a native grape species...American grapes found their first culinary use in the Native Americans' pemmican...Viking explorers named their Newdoundland landfall Vinland, for the vines there; early colonists from England remarked on the bounty of grapes in their new home--and also their acrid flavor. These grapes, Vitus labrusca, have two outstanding characteristics: a thick skin...and a highly pungent aroma...Introducing the wine grape of America was a matter of policy in the colonies...That attempts at introduction were not successful is evidenced by Thomas Jefferson's correspondence with Europe, seeking more robust as well as finer varieties of grape. Lack of sucess is explained not only by the occasionally harsh winters of the Atlantic seaboard but also by the numerous pathogens specific to the vine...of which most native American species had developed resistnace or immunity, but to which the European grape had none at all...Until the 1850s, grapes of dessert quality remained a luxury for those few who maintained a greenhouse to grwo varieties of European origin...The first generations of American hybrid grapes were the basis of a wine industry founded on the Ohio River new Cincinati, and later on Lake Erie and in upstate New York."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 574-575))

    "The quantity of grapes now consumed annually for food is enormoujs, yet one need not be very old to remember when a bunch of grapes was a rarity in the city save upon the tables of the rich. How much has been done for American health, and thus indirectly for American civilization, by the cheapening and popularizing of the small frut is during the past thirty years, can hardly be estimated. Best of them all is the grape. It appeals to the aesthetic taste as well as to the palate; it is grateful to the eye as well as the stomach, and a four or five cents a pound is within the reach of the leanest purse...Thousands of acres are...under grape cultivation in many...states, especially New Jersey, Western New York, Ohio, Missiouri, Michigan and Wisconsin...The four best known Eastern varieties are the Concord (black). Niagara (green), Delaware (reddish) and Catawba (reddish)...The popularity of the Concord is due to its long season and all-round reliability. It is the first to appear on the fruit stands and it stays the longest...The most important Southern grapes is the Scuppernong...Fancy grapes can be kept in good condition for several weeks by wrapping each bunch in oil or tissue paper, encasing with cotton wool and tying each end, and keeping in a cool place. For shipment, the bunches are further packed in wood-wool in cases."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 277-279)
    [NOTE: Much of this information was "borrowed" from the 1886 edition.]

    "The vine was brought to the New World by Columbus, and, in 1494 at Hayti, 'cuttings from European vines already began to form their clusters.' In 1741, there were some thousands of vines from Portugal thriving in Augusta Georgia, and there are accounts of this vine in New Albion in 1647. There are accounts of wine-making from grapes of un known species in Virginia in 1630, 1647, 1651; in Massachusetts, in 1634; in Pennsylvania, in 1683 and 1685p and in Indiana in 1804."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 603-604)

    California grapes
    "The V, vubufera of Europe was introduced to California in 1769 to produce altar wines for the missions. The easy growth of this species under California conditions impressed later immigrants from the Eastern states and a wine industry soon developled. The market was limited for dessert fruit until the advent of the refrigerated railway car in the 1880s. At that point, grape plantings in the Modesto and Fresno districts expanded, chiefly in varieties of character and flavor...At the same time, the sultana type of V. vinifera, which has no seeds, was planted for sun-drying, especially in the southern San Joquin valley."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 576)

    "In California alone more than 250,000 acres are under grape cultivation. About 125,000 acres are devoted entirely to wine making. The producut of another 100,000 acres is dried as raisins or made into brandy. The remaining 25,000 are devoted to table grapes, shipped principally to Eastern markets. The total investment in the industry in California is estimated at considerably more than $100,000,000...The best known of the California products for table purposes are the Muscat or Muscatel...and the Hamburg, Gros Colman, Black Morocco, Tokay and Empress...The Seedless, or Thompson Seedless, as small slender green grape, is the variety sold dried as California Sultanas." ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 277, 279)

    "In California, its tontroduction was due to the Mission which were aminly established from 1769 to 1820."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 604)

    Additional history from industry experts.

    Thompson Seedless grapes
    William Thompson, Yuba City Californa, is generally credited for introducting the seedless grapes bearing his name. The year is fuzzy, either 1876 or 1878 depending upon the source. Historic newspapers confirm seedless grapes were of special economic interested to local growers after the Civil War. The competition was fierce.

    "Public attention having been called of late to this wornderful variety of the seedless Corinth famly--which hobody yet in California, it seems, has been able to grow with success...The 'Zante currant' is know by that name only in the United States and Great Britain; but in most of Europe, especially in the East or Orient, where that grape is grown, it goes under the name of Passolina. That word has an Itlain origin, Passolina being the diminutive of Passa, from Ura Passa, or common raisin...There are three distinct varieties of the seedless Crinth grape--viz. White Corinth, Rose Corinth, Black Corinth...The White Corninth has been successfully grown in Calfironi by Messes. W.B. West, of Stockton, E. Eisen, of Fresno, by myself [Felix Gillet] and others."
    ---"'Passolina,' or 'Zante Currant' Grape," The Independent--Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social and Economic Tendencies,, September 20, 1883; 35, 18 American Periodicals (p. 30)

    "Judge R.M. Widney received by express from J.P. Onstott of Yuba City, yesterday, a box of seedless grapes, which are certainly as fine as were ever grown in the State, and resembled somewhat the seedless Sultana...In a circular Mr. Onstott gies the following data: 'In 1878, William Thompson, Sr., or Yuba City, recieved from Rochester, N.Y., three grape cuttings. He grafted these into old vines, but only one graft grew. I got a few cuttinf s from him which i grafted and extended the culture as soon as I percieved the merits of the fruit. As the grape seemed to be unknown, the Sutter County Horticultural Society named it the Thompson seedling. 'This grape will take the palce of the dirty Corinth grape, known as the currant of commerce. It is larger than the currant and more meaty, approaching in this respect the Muscat, and being the same color as the latter grape. It is perfectly seedless...In 1888, nine vines produced an average of eight-nine pounds each."
    ---"A New Grape," Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1890 (p. 5)

    Flame Seedless grapes
    Most sources agree that Flame seedless is the mostimportant of red seedless grapes. The "invention" of Flame seedless is credited to John Weinberger, who began working on this variety in the mid-1950s. Flame seedless was introduced to the American public in 1973. Thompson seedless (introduced in the late 19th century) is a green grape.

    "The Flame seedless grape, one of the central San Joaquin Valley's great summer treats, is now moving from local vineyards to dinner tables across the country, according to the weekly crop report from the Fresno County Department of Agriculture. This crisp, red grape, introduced in 1983, ranks right behind the Thompson seedless in the hearts of table grape lovers. The Flame was developed in Fresno County by the late John Weinberger, a U.S. Agriculture Department plant scientist who bred and released 37 varieties of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and grapes in his 41-year career."
    ---"Bloom is still fine for Flame seedless grape," Guy Keeler, The Fresno Bee, July 10, 2002 (p. E3)

    "There's a new kid on the block, and grape specialists say it bears watching. It goes by the name of Red Flame Seedless. "I think it is an important new development," says Don Luvisi, farm adviser at the University of California Cooperative Extension in Bakersfield. "I think the biggest characteristic is its crispness and it has kind of a tartness to it, a sweetness and tartness at the same time. Just about anybody I've given this grape to over the last seven or eight years has wanted to know where can they get more of it." The Red Flame is one of the first marketable red varieties without seeds, Luvisi says. "But I think more in the consumer's favor is that this is a delightful variety to eat." The Red Flame is not exactly newborn. It was developed in Fresno about 20 years ago by Dr. John Weinberger, a specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who has since retired. "The original crop was grown in 1962 and fruited in 1964. It was released in 1973," Luvisi says. "It takes at least 10 years to develop any new variety, and the marketing takes a little bit longer than that. How do you evaluate any variety when you're marketing 34 million packages of fruit and you have 500 or 1,000 packages?" He says the Red Flame is now grown throughout the San Joaquin Valley of California, as well as in Mexico and in limited quantities in Arizona. In California, officials estimate 360 acres were devloted to Red Flame grapes in 1978-79, 1,300 in 1979-80 and 3,000 in 1980-81. But, Luvisi says, "Actually I think it's closer to 4,000 or 5,000 or maybe a little better." The Red Flame, which as an early-season crop ripens in mid-July, has been wending its way to market in increasing quantities _ about 230,000 boxes in 1980 and 1 million boxes this year. Consumers may not always be able to distinguish Red Flame grapes by sight from other red table grapes, but Luvisi says that "some growers put little tags on them that say they're Red Seedless or Seedless." He says flavor and a lack of seeds are the variety's main attractions for consumers, while vigorous growth habits, good resistance to disease and adaptibility to a range of climates make it popular with growers. Despite those attributes, Luvisi says, the Red Flame will not steal the leadership of the grape world's star grape, the Thompson seedless - which farmers say is white and most consumers consider green. But there is plenty of room for another player, and grape specialists will be watching to see out the Red Flame performs, Luvisi says. "Will the consumer accept it? Will their interest continue?" he asks. "If so, this should become one of the major table grape varieties."
    ---"New Grape Takes Center Stage," Jackie Hyman, Associated Press, October 31, 1981 (business news)

    John Weinberger was inducted into the USDA Agricultural Reseach Service Hall of Fame in 1991:
    "The late John H. Weinberger retired from the Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Fresno, California, where he worked as a research horticulturist. He earned a place in the Hall of Fame for his lifelong research contributions to developing fruit varieties and fruit-breeding technology. During his career at ARS, Weinberger developed and released 37 fruit varieties. Flame Seedless, a table grape he released in 1973, is now the second most important seedless grape produced in the United States."

    Related item: Thompson Seedless grapes.


    "Raisins are special varieties of grape prepared by drying. The term 'dried grapes' is only applied to wine grapes dried in the sun and their only commerical use is for wine makers--they are not sold or used as 'raisins.' Improted Raisins. The principal types are Malagas, or Muscatels, Valencias and Sultanas. Malgas...[are] the finest grade...Sultanas...are small, oval, naturally entirely seedless...They come from Smyrna...Corinthian Raisins is another name for Currants...California Raisins are divied int Layer, Seeded and Seedless. Both the Layer and Seeded are made from Muscatel grapes...California Seedless Raisins are of two kinds--Seedless Muscatels...and Thompson Seedless, correspondng to the imported Sultanas. Thompson seedless raisins are prepared by dipping the grapes before drying in an alkali solution to which is added saponified olive oil, and by suphuring. The result is an attractive product of light color and fine flavor. The domestic raisin prdouct amounts to about 65,000 tons annually."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 519-521)

    Ancient Roman Must
    "Must, fresh grape juice. Must is a product which in normal conditions begins to ferment into wine almost as soon as it flows from the press, and therefore is soon somewhat alcoholic."
    ---Food in the Ancient World From A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:New York] 2003 (p. 224)

    "As today, the crushed grapes underwent their first fermentation in a large open vat, where they remained for anything form a few days to a few weeks. The additives might be mixed into the 'must', such as tree-resin, vinegar or the must of an earlier season, as a fermentation starter...Then the must was tapped and sieved. Not all of it was made into wine, and some was boiled down to a syrup, which was the basis of many sauces...and also used to sweeten wine. Yeast was made from must. The Romans stored must in wide clay vessels, made watertight with resin, clay and ashes, then buried them in the ground to maintain a constant temperature."
    ---Around the Roman Table, Patrick Faas [Palgrave Macmillan:New York] 1994, 2003 (p. 113)

    Must is referenced in books detailing Ancient Roman wine making. Recommended reading: Vinum: The Story of Roman Wine/Stuart J. Fleming. Compare with modern grape juice & ancient/medieval verjuice.

    Verjuice is the juice of unripe grapes or sour (crab) apples. It was used in Ancient and Medieval times to flavor savory dishes and as a medicinal. Verjuice could also be used to flavor wine and sweets. The range was Mediterranean to northern Europe, generally following the Roman conquest route.

    "Verjuice is a tart liquid used in cooking and pickling, for sauces, or as a condiment. It is typically made by pressing unripe grapes (hence its name, which in the original Old French was vertjus, 'green juice'), but where grapes are unavailable other fruit is substituted, such as crab apples. In English cuisine it was mainly a phenomenon of the Middle Ages."
    ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002(p. 357)

    "Verjuice, literally 'green juice,' also spelled 'vergis' and, in old manuscripts, 'veriuyce.' It comes from the Latin jus viride, and originally referred to the juice extracted from crab apples, which was in constant use in cooking up to the last century, when its place was taken by the 'squeeze of lemon juice.' It was used particularly in meat, fish, or game pies, and resembled a sharp cider rather than vinegar...Something akin to it may also have been made from sour grapes, but in Britain this was not used for the same purpose...Verjus, French for verjuice, but extracted from the verjus grape. It is still used in the preparation of certain commercially made mustards in France."
    ---Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe, Theodora Fitzgibbon [Quadrangle/New YOrk Times Book Co.:New York] 1976 (p. 502)

    "Verjuice, The acid juice of unripe grapes; it used to be in demand chiefly for cooking. Latin, Omphacium; French, Verjus; Italian, Agresto; Spanish, Agrazo; Portuguese, Agraco."
    ---A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy, Andre L. Simon [Harcourt Brace and Co.:New York] 1952(p. 77)

    "Some writers say that in former times the word verjus meant sauce verte which was sold in the streets of Paris."
    ---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne, edited by Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 997)

    "Verjuice, under the name of abghooreh, is a common ingredient in the cuisine of Iran. It is made from tiny unripe grapes when the crop is thinned out at the beginning of the growth season; and it is bottled for use throughout the year. In Lebanon verjuice is called hosrum and is used as an alternative to lemon juice."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition, Tom Jaine editor [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2006 (p. 828)

    [Ancient Greece & Rome ]
    "Greek omphakion and Latin omphacium are names for verjuice, the juice of unripe grapes (of the psithia and aminnaia varities, according to Dioscorides). This was used medicinally and as a culinary ingredient. The same Greek and Latin term is used for the oil of unripe olives."
    ---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London 2003(p. 225)

    [10th century]
    "Verjuice wine.

    This wine is good for the stomach and is suitable for those suffering from paralysis, narcosis, trembling, blackouts, kidney troubles, colic and pestilential diseases."
    ---Geoponika: Farm Work, a modernized translation of the Roman and Byzantine farming handbook, Andrew Dalby [Prospect Books: Devon] 2011 Book eight, no. 11 (p. 176)

    [14th century]
    Vertsaus Broun/A Forme of Cury

    [15th century]
    "On Verjuice.

    What they commonly call acresta, I would call omphacium, on the authority of Pliny, and acor [verjuice], on the authority of Macrobius, for omphax, as I have said, means a still-bitter grape; therefore, I would rather call oil from an unripe berry omphacium than acresta, which I do not quite see as being from omphax. [Macrobius] thus devines verjuice: vinegar is sharper than verjuice, whose force it is agreed is greater than acresta, which soothes the burning of the stomach more mildly and does not emaciate or weaken the body as vinegar is apt to do. Verjuice is wonderfuly good for unsettled or upset stomach or thirsty liver, if you use it raw, for it is less helpful cooked. We use it easily and healthfully against poison and in seasoning foods."
    ---On Right Pleasure and Good Health, Platina, critical edition and translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine by Mary Ella Milham [Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998 Book II, no. 26 (p. 169)

    "Brouet de vergus...To make Verjuiced Broth. Cook whatever meat you like in water, wine and for the most part, verjuice. Get sieved bread tempered in verjuice, and egg yolks and spices--ginger, grains of paradise and long pepper; boil everything together, well seasoned with salt; the verjuice should predominate. Pour it over your meat, which has been well sauteed in fine rendered lard."
    ---The Vivendier, a critical edition with English Tranlsation by Terence Scully [Prospect Books:Devon] 1997 (p. 51)

    [17th century]
    "Verjuice liquid.

    Take the fairest you can get, and take out all the seeds. Boile some water, and let your verjuice steep a little in it, then put it into some sugar a little sod, and boile it seven or eight high boilings, and take it out.
    "Dry verjuice
    Drain it well, seeth some sugar into a conserve, and put your verjuice in. Set it on the fire, and cause it to take the same seething as it had when you have mixed it, so that the plume, or skin, or crust of it be very strong." (p. 234)
    "How to make a gelee of verjuice Take verjuice, and give it one boiling in water, strain it through a coarse linnen cloth, and seeth some apples, the decoction whereof you shall mix with it, and the rest as abovesaid." (p. 242) ---The French Cook, Francois Pierre, La Varenne, Englished by I.D.G. 1653, introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [Southover Press:East Sussex] 2001

    [19th century]
    "Well it speaks for the stabilty of human nature that the same delights, even to the verjuice, hold their own today. The French, wise beyond all other men in table lore, make their delicious Sirop de Groseilles as the ancients made their delcious verjuice and then sweeten and color it before bottling. Verjuice proper, which is used in England and on the Continent as as substitute for lemon-juice, is made by expressing the juice from unripe grapes, gooseberries and sour crabapples. The juice, filtered through a cloth until clear, and exposed uncorked to the sun for a week, as the fermentation progresses, the verjuice overflows the bottles, and more is added daily; at the end of a week an ounce of salt is put into each pint of verjuice, and the bottles are tightly corked and sealed. Before the final bottling, the bottles should be held over the smoke of burning sulpher, the verjuice is poured into them before the smoke escapes, and the corking and sealing is done at once...Our (USA) nearest approach to verjuice is cider vinegar..."
    ---"Hints for the Household, Miss Corson Discourses About Pickles," Miss Juliet Corson, New York Times, October 30, 1881 (p. 13)

    [20th century]
    "Verjuice: the juice of unripe fruits, escpecially grapes and crab apples, either separate or together. It was in olden time considered a pleasant beverage, but is now only used in cooking."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [New York] 1911 (p. 667)

    "M. Paul Claudel, the French Ambassador, rose early on Thursday in order to pay the Advertising Club of New York a...visit...As everone knows, M. Claudel is a poet as well as a diplomat...There is another trait which, according to M. Claudel, the poets and the advertisers have in common--and that is a spririt of praise: 'The cup of the poets and the advertisers knows only honey; not a drop of verjuice is admitted to spoil the taste of ambrosia.' The listeners were plainly puzzled by this pronouncement. Strange to say they did not boggle at 'ambrosia' but 'verjuice' bowled them over. There were whisperings and putting of heads together but that did no good, and it was only when the distinguished guest had taken his departure that a dictionary could with decency be requisitioned and then the hosts read: Verjuice--1. Sour juice of crabapples, green or unripe grapes, apples, &c.: also an acid liquor made from sour juice. 2. Tartness, sourness as of disposition."
    ---"Verjuice," Washington Post, February 26, 1928 (p. S1)
    [NOTE: What is ambrosia?]

    [21st century]
    "Let's not stereotype power ingredients....Need proof? Go get yourself a bottle of verjuice. The French spelling, verjus, tells you what it is: 'vert jus" or 'green juice.' But in this 'green' as in unripe, not as in color. In medieval times, when sour was more widely appreciated than it is now, the term could refer to the juice of a variety of unripe fruits, from grapes to crab apples to plums. Verjuice was used to deepen flavors and add a delicate tartness to all kinds of sauces, condiments, stews and meats; it was a staple of the French pantry. But then came an interloper: the lemon, introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders, this medieval convenience food had only to be cut open to yield a tart juice. No pressing or bottling required. Over the years the popularity of verjuice began to fade, until by the 19th century it had been relegated to the back of the top of the pantry shelf. Fortunately in the last decade or so it has begun to seep back into the consciousness of Western cooks. In its odern iteration, verjuice refers only to the bottled juice of unripe grapes, usually picked halfway during the thinning process about halfway toward maturity. Green grapes are most often used, but sometimes red are added, creating a slightly heartier product. Like lemon juice, verjuice adds a bright tartness to a wide range of dishes. But it has an advantage over its far more popular competitor. It's a more gentle, subtle tartness, with a faint but definite undercurrent of vegetal sweetness. Because of this, it is more adept at complementing rather than masking other flavors in dishes where it's used...Unfortunately, verjuice can be sometimes hard to find. It's available by mail order...Most of them hover around the $20 mark for a 750-milliliter bottle."
    ---"Power Ingredients: Try a Little Tartness in a Medieval Staple," John Willoughby, New York Times, October 2, 2010 (p. D9)

    Compare with ancient must & modern grape juice.

    Bananas & plantains
    Prehistoric hunter-gatherers used banana plants for food, fiber, and building materials. The general place of origin is Southeast Asia; the exact epicenter is still debated. Global diffusion and varieties reflect local history and exploration. Botanists tell us banans are herbs. They are consumed as fruit, vegetable, and flour.
    Plantains are starchy cousins that are generally cooked. The other kind of plantain is a wild leafy green.

    What is a banana?
    Banana...The various forms of the banana (Musa paradisiaca) are probably native to South and Southeast Asia and doubtless helped feed hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years. The banana is among the oldest plants that humans have used, was one of the first to be cultivated, and today constitutes one of the most important food crops in the world. The identity of the exact homeland of the banana has been blurred by the plant's ability to spread rapidly throughout the tropics....when bananas reached the tropical New World (apparently with Spanish explorers), they propagated with such rapidity that some of the earliest chroniclers through that the fruit was an American native. And bananas apparently reached tropical Africa and Polynesia much earlier (c. A.D. 500 and 1000, respectively) than they did in the New World. The banana 'tree' is really a giant herb that can grow to 20 or more feet in height in only a year."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1726)

    Why were bananas "domesticated?"
    "The evolution and spread of the banana has recently been discussed in detail by N.W. Simmonds, but although much is now known of the taxonomy, genetics and more recent origins of this fruit, its early domestication is still rather questionable. The wild banana is somewhat unattractive, seedy, and inedible, and has been changed by man from this jungle weed tino a large seedless fruit. The wild plants are distributed in tropical Asia and Australiasia ...and certainly this area is the cradle of banana domestication. However, the story is not simply one of deliberage selection for larger and larger fruit, and Simmonds has pointed out that in fact the plant may well at first have been cultivated for other reasons. In particular, the sheaths yield valuable fibres, the leaves are useful wrapping materials, and from the point of view of food, the soft inner sheaths, the male buds and flowers, and the immature fruits can all be eaten as vegetables...Thus, fruit improvements probably followed long after the plant was cultivated for these other resasons. Literary and archeological evidence for the banana is scattered and as yet very sparse. In India, it is not noted before 600 BC, although linguistic studies trace its use back possibley to pre 3000BC. The early African cultivars...probably reached Madagascar from Malaya late in the first half of the first millennium AD, and then spread westwards through Africa. Possibly many of the Pacific islands were cultivating the banana by about AD 1000. Claims of a considerable antiquity for the plant, in two widely separated regions of the world, are still open to debate. In one or two Assyrian carvings, representing royal banquets, banana-like fruits are depiced. As texts make no mention of the fruit, we have only the art evidence at present, but it would not be unreasonable to postulate a very early introduction from India, perhaps by traders wishing to provided special variety at the royal table. The other instance concerns pre-Columbian America, wehre it is claime that banana reamains were found in early Peruvian tombs. This claim would seem to deserve careful investigation, and if substantiated, would give added weight to early trans-Pacific human movements."
    ---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore MD] 1998 (p. 138-140)

    Why do we call them "bananas?"
    "Banana appears to be a tropical African word, but its lexical origins represent only a single stage in the fruit's worldwide wanderings before it reached British shores. It probably grew first in Southeast Asia, and did not make a big impact elsewhere until in the early Islamic period it was brought from India to the Middle East, and thence to Africa. The odd banana had turned up in Europe before that...but only as an exotic rarity: in ancient had to make do with borrowing the name of the fig (a notion which lived on in the early French term for 'banana', fitue du paradis). Spanish and Portuguese colonists took the banana with them across the Atlantic form Africa to the Americas, and along with it they brought its African name, banana, apparently a word from one of the languages of the Congo area (it has been speculated that it derives ultimately form Arabic banana, 'finger toe', an origin which would be echoed int the English term hand for a bunch of bananas..."
    ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 17-18)

    Banana symbolism & lore
    "The word banana is of West African origin, and both the fruit and the tree play an important role in the myths and beliefs of people around the African continent. Many Africans link the tree to fertility...The Chinese tell a legend about the Banana Maiden, a spirit of the banana tree whose life had a mysterious connection to the life of a young woman...The Hindus used bananas in marriage ceremonies."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC Clio:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 16-18)

    Bananas in India
    "Both the Sanskrit terms for the banana, mocha and kandali...are believe to be of Munda origin...When these plants reached India several thousand years abo, they crossed with a wild plant M. balbisiana,...Foreign visitors to India noted the abundance and variety of bananas. Ludocico di Varthema in AD 1505, described three varieties...It is only as late as in c. 400 BC that the banana is frist noted in Pali/Sanskrit literarure, though in the south the fruit must have been known earlier."
    ---A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, K.T. Achaya [Oxford University Press:Delhi] 1998 (p. 13-15)

    When did Americans "discover" bananas?
    Bananas were introduced and actively promoted after the U.S. Civil War. Advances in transportation parlayed this exotic fruit to the forefront of national cuine. Bananas were introduced as fruits, to be consumed raw (fruit salads), and as a dessert flavoring (banana cream, banana custard, banana ice cream, banana cake). From the 1880s forwards, cookbooks offered banana recipes. In the mid-20th century, corporate cooking brochures published by Dole and Chiquita promoted bananas for all meals and courses: grilled bananas, ham banana rolls, baked bananas (in the peel), banana scallops & broiled bananas. Think:
    Bananas Foster, Brennan's c. 1951.

    "Residents of the United States became familiar with bananas in a variety of ways. Missionary society Sunday school stories about exotic tropical places included tales of bananas and other strange fruit...cookbooks, newspaper articles, and advertisements promoted the new fruit. Bananas began to appear in retail networks, in greengrocer shops, and on pushcarts. They were linked to romantic adventure and associated with palm trees, warm weather, and perpetual vacation. many nineteeth-century writers confused the banana and the plantian. One descrpbed the banana as 'similar in composition to the potato...'In 1872 housewives were told that 'bananas have a taste something like muskmelons. They are not improved by cooking, yet may be preserved to taste as well when raw...'...Bananas were also described as being 'as large as a cucumber and resembling it in color and shape.'...In the nineteenth cnetury the people of the United States loved fruit...They had also enthusiastically adopted such exotic imported delicacies as the pineapple and the coconut...The Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 included a forty-acre display of tropical plants in the Horticultural Hall with...a panana plant...The banana plant was so popular that a guard had to be posted near it so that visitors would not pull it apart for souvenirs...Bananas were available at a specialty greengrocer in Philadelphia in 1876, wrapped in tinfoil at 10 cents apiece--an hour's wage for many people...It was not until the mid-1880s that people in the Midwest became somewhat familiar with the banana as a fruit and could find them in grocery stores. Even then bananas were expensive and remained a luxury item for some time."
    ---Bananas: The American Story, Virginia Scott Jenkins [Smithsonian Institution Press:Washington D.C.] 2000 (p. 9-12)
    [NOTE: We highly recommend this book. Your local public librarian can help you obtain a copy.]

    "In The Notions of a Travelling Bachelor, James Fenimore Cooper listed bananas among tropical fruits 'as common as need be' in New York markets during the 1830s. But the great popularity of the fruit in the United States had to wait until the improvement of refrigeration and transportation facilities, a generation or so after Captain Lorenzo Baker of Wellfleet in 1870 brought the first ship loaded exclusively with bananas into Boston harbor. Breads, pies, and cakes made with bananas--and cookies, too--were soon thereafter being turned out by innovative American cooks."
    ---American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones, 2nd edition [Vintage Books:New York] 1981(p. 473)

    "When bananas were broadly introduced in the 1880s, tableware designers and glass manufacturers quickly responded by producing special footed serving bowls, called banana bowls or banana boats..."
    ---Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America, Susan Williams [Pantheon:New York] 1985 (p. 108)

    Popular American recipes: Banana bread, Banana cream pie & Banana splits.

    There are two distinct foods called plantians. One plantain is related to bananas. Larger and tougher, it is generally (but not always) cooked and consumed as a starchy vegetable. The other plantain is a
    wild leafy green consumed in salads. A careful reading of historic descriptions and recipes can help determine which of these is the "real" ingredient in any given dish. Synonyms ("poor man's bread") and descriptions ("green bananas") challenge, rather than elucidate.

    Plantain=starchy vegetable & fruit
    "Plantain...A herbaceous plant ot the tropics, the plantain (Musa X paradisiaca) is a fruit similar to the banana (and a close relative), but it is larger, is green (although some varieties undergo the same changes of color as bananas), has more starch, and is not eaten raw. Plantains are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, but are now grown throughout the topics of Asia, the New World, Africa, and the Pacific. They are fried, roasted, baked, boiled, and also dried and ground into flour. In addition, in Africa plantains are sued to make beer."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1836)

    "Plantain (fruit) the name given to varieties of the banana which are only suitable for cooking. They are not botanically disctinct, but for the consumer they are einterily different from eating bananas. The are most important as staple foods in E. and C. Africa, and to a lesser extent in SE Asia and the islands, S. India, and the . Indies. Most varieties are longer and thicker than typical eating bananas, often rather angular in cross-section. There are pink, green, red, blackish-brown, and black-spotted yellow varieties...Plantains are used much in the same way ans any starchy vegetable. In E. Africa they are pounded and boiled to make Foo-Foo...An excellent specialty of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean is tostones, for which slices of slightly unripe plantain are gently fried, squashed flat, and further fried until crisp. Plantain also makes successful chips (US French fries)."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2004 (p. 612)

    Oxford English Dictionary (partial entry)
    "Etymology: < Spanish †plantano, variant of plátano(see platano n.), in forms probably with alteration after plantain n.1(compare forms at that entry). Compare ( < Spanish) French plantain (1784 or earlier in this form; 1617 as †plantanes (plural)), now only in sense ‘plantain tree’ (the fruit is banane plantain ). Compare earlier platano n... 1. Any of several varieties of banana with a high starch content and little sugar, which are picked when not yet ripe and cooked as a vegetable in tropical countries. Also occas. more generally: a banana of any kind. 1582 R. Madox Diary 28 Aug. in E. S. Donno Elizabethan in 1582 (1976) 176 a very delyciows fruyt and groeth lyke a beane 2 or 3 fadom hygh. 1591 J. Hortop Trauailes Eng. Man 8 On the top grow the fruit which is called Plantaines, they are crooked and a cubite long. 1657 R. Ligon True Hist. Barbados 81 The Bonano... This fruit is of a sweeter taste then the Plantine..we find them as good to stew, or preserve as the Plantine. 1697 W. Dampier New Voy. around World xi. 311 The Plantain I take to be the King of all Fruit."

    How are plaintains prepared?
    The answer depends on the culinary history of each region. In the Caribbean region plantains used for both savorey and sweet dishes: Fried Green Plantains, Fried Yellow Plantains, Platanutri, Baked Plantains, Tostones, Pious Nuns, Baked Pie, Dulce de Amarillo, Boiled Plantain, Mashed Plantain, Plantain Balls, Plantain Omelette, Arepitas, Croquettes, Baked with Cinnamon & Mayaguez Rose. Source: Puerto Rican Cook Book, Eliza B.K. Dooley [Dietz Press:Richmond VA] 1948 (p. 102-105). In West Africa "The plantina is generally used in the unripe state, when it consists almost entirely of starch and is usually roasted in oil or boiled, and then eaten, either in pieces, or pounded into plantain 'fufu'. Sometimes the unripe fruits are sliced and put out into the sun to dry in much the same way as cassava 'kokonte'...From dried slices of plantain a good flour can be prepared, by grinding or pounding them into a powder." Source: A Text-book of West African Agriculture Soils and Crops, F.R. Irvine, 2nd edition [Oxford University Press:London] 1934, 1957 (p. 221)

    Plantain=leafy green
    "Another group of plants with the name 'plantain' belongs to the genus Plantago. These are weeds with broad leaves that, when young, serve as a potherb. The plants were used by native Americans for food and for medicine." ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1836)

    "Plaintain (plant) a name given to a group of small leafy plants, of the genus Plantago, long before it was applied also to the cooking varieties of banana...The name comes from the Latin plantago, which itself comes from planta, meaning the sole of the food and referring to the foot-shaped leaves. Another group of descended from the Anglo-Saxon wegbreed, meaning 'growing by the wayside', which turned into 'waybread' in the sense of food for travelers...buckshorn plantain qualifies as an element in the mixed salad of wild greens known a s misticanza in Italy."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2004 (p. 613)

    Oxford English Dictionary (partial entry)
    Etymology: < Anglo-Norman plainteine, plantain, plantaine, plantayne, plantein, planteine, plauntain, plauntaine, plauntein, plaunteine, plaunteyne, also plainteinee, plauntanie, and Old French plaintain, plantaine, plantein, Old French, Middle French plantain, Middle French plantin(c1205 or earlier: see note below; French plantain ) < classical Latin plant?gin- , plant?g? plantain, apparently < planta plant n.2 + -?g? , suffix forming nouns, so called with reference to its broad prostrate leaves (compare waybread n.). Compare Old Occitan plantage(mid 13th cent.; Occitan plantatge), Catalan plantatge(14th cent.), Spanish llantén(c1275 or earlier; earlier as †plantain(12th cent. in a Mozarabic text)), (rare) plantén(1509), Italian piantaggine(first half of the 13th cent.). It is unclear whether the following are to be taken as examples of the Middle English or the Anglo-Norman word (the date of c1205 given above for the French word refers to an Old French attestation in the Roman de Renart): a1200 Glosses to De Viribus Herbarum of Macer (Vitell. C.iii) in Anglia (1974) 92 286 De plantagine : weibrode uel planteine. a1300 in T. Wright & R. P. Wülcker Anglo-Saxon & Old Eng. Vocab. (1884) I. 559/27 Arnoglosa, plauntein. With great plantain, greater plantain at sense 1(a) compare post-classical Latin plantago major waybread (c1200 in a British source), Middle French, French grand plantain (15th cent.). Compare the following earlier unassimilated borrowings < classical Latin plant?g? : c1150 (??OE) Peri Didaxeon (1896) 9 Nim eftsona platagine [read plantagine; L. plantaginem], þæt ys, webrædan, and cnuca þa wurt togadere. ?a1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add.) f. 103v, Som constreyneþ and stintiþ blood, as..Emachites, plantago, & othir soche. ?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (N.Y. Acad. Med.) f. 178v, Plantago [?c1425 Paris Planteyne] is an herbe is repercussyue & consolidatyue.

    19th century desserts, confections, and beverages sometimes list "bergamot" as an ingredient. What was this stuff? Great question with three possible answers:
    Italian orange, Arabian pear or North American herb. In sum: context clues count when deciphering historic recipes.

    What is Bergamot?
    "Bergamot, the name for three quite distinct plants. I. Monarda didyma, an ornamental herb, native to North America and brought to Britain in 1656. The leaves can be dried and brewed as a tea called Oswego tea. The fresh leaves are good in salad. This plant likes damp ground, and grows easily from seed. The blooms are red and very attractive. II. Pyrus persica, one of the oldest pears in England, also known by the name bergamot, which in this case is said to be a corruption of the Turkish word beg-armudi--'prince's pear.' It was probably introduced into England by the Romans. III. Citrus bergamia, a pear-shaped orange which is grown in Calabria, Italy, for the oil obtained from its peel. The peel itself is also used in confectionery and cookery as a flavouring agent."
    ---The Food of the Western World: An encyclopedia of food from North America and Europe, Theodora FitzGibbon [Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.:New York] 1976 (p. 39-41)

    Why call them bergamot?
    "The word apparently is derived from the Italian town Bergamo. The name Bergamot, for a variety of pear, is an entirely different word, supposed to be a corruption of the Turkish beg-armudi (=prince's pear)."
    ---Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Volume 3 (p. 772)

    Bergamot oranges
    "Bergamot...The fruit called bergamot comes from a small spiny tree (Citrus bergamia). It is called the bergamot orange, or mellarosa, and is halfway between an orange and a lemon. It is sour, and its leaves, flowers, and pear-shaped fruits are used mostly in perfumery. However, the oils from the rind are also employed in flavoring liqueurs, and the fruit goes into an Italian preserve, mostarde di frutta. The bergamot orange is grown mostly in the southern Italian province of Calabria."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1731)

    "Bergamot orange, bergamotto, Citrus bergamia Risso, a fruit of the citrus family...possibly a cross between a fruit similar to lime, limencello, and biter orange, is harsh and unpleasant to eat, but its peel yields a delicate oil used to flavour confectionery, liqueurs, and cordials...and a much loved brand of tea, Earl Gray. Bergamot oranges are cultivated in the south of Italy, particularly Reggio Calabria, for extraction of the essential oil...A biscuit from Piedmont, pazientino, is made of flour, sugar, and egg whites, flavoured with bergamot, patiently formed in little strips, crisp and long keeping."
    ---Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2007 (p. 52)

    "Bergamot Orange...Fruit of the bergamot tree. It is a kind of lemon, having a very acid but pleasant taste. Highly-scented essential oil extracted from it rind is used in perfumery, pharmaceutics and in confectionery. Candied bergamot peel is used in pastry-making and cookery for flavouring cakes and sweet dishes."
    ---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne, edited by Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 140-141)

    "The bergamot first appeared in the latter part of the seventeenth century. It is not mentioned in the grand work on orange trees by Ferrari, 1676, nor by Lanzani, 1690, nor Quintinye, 1692. It seems to be first mentioned in a little book called La Parfumeur Francois, published at Lyons in 1693. There are several varieties."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrik, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon Company:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 174)

    "There is but one spot in the world where the bergamot tree can be cultivated with profit--a fact of some importance, since its essence is indispensable in the manufacture of numerous perfumes and medicinal preparations. The spot referred to is Reggio, in Calabria, that extremity of the Italian peninsula which is familiarly known as 'the toe of the boot.'...At present the Reggio bergamot suffers both in quality and reputation through the frauds of small traders, who, it is said, mixed with ten parts of adulterating matter."
    ---"A Corner for Bergamot," New York Times, November 5, 1892 (p. 2)

    Bergamot lemons
    We find American references to the "Bergamot Lemon" in the late 19th century. Descriptions and origination of this fruit suggest the authors were really referring to the Bergamont orange.

    "In the very important and beautiful display of citrus fruits from Santa Barbara in the fair now held at Hazard's Pavilion, there is a specimen of the 'Bergamot' lemon. Why called Bergamot is not clearly known, but it is a not clearly known, but it is the misnomer, for if a lemon tree of that kind grows in the Italian city of Bergamo (about twenty-nine miles northeast of Milan)...The price is always high per pound, and in 1855 it brought $18 per pound...It is a curious fact that no invention for obtaining this precious essential oil has superceded the simple method of hand work. The usual mode of expressing the essential oil is to take the split lemon, or the fresh peel, and squeeze it against a sponge. There may be other processes of refining and distilling afterward, but the chief business is the hand work thus described. The true Bergamot lemon is of the color as deep as that of the orange, although I have seen some that were paler."
    ---"Bergamot Lemon," J.C. Fletcher, Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1892 (p. 10)

    "The Bergamot Lemon...There is but one spot in the world where the bergamot tree can be cultivated with profit--a fact of some importance, since the essence is indispensable in the manufacture of numerous perfumes and medical preparations. The spot referred to is Reggio, in Calabria...'Enterprising capitalists' would better to a little slow before they jump at the conclusion that the bergamot tree can only be grown in Calabria. Bergamot lemons, of fine quality, from Santa Barbara were shown at the citrus fair in Los Angeles a year ago. There is no reason why the bergamot lemon should not be grown successfully in Southern California as well as the ordinary Sicily lemon, and other varieties."
    ---"Orchard and Farm Rancho and Stockyard: Rural Life in Southern California," Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1893 (p. 10)

    Bergamot pears
    "Among fruit fanciers several incline to derive name of this favorite species of pear from the Italian town of Bergamo, while a larger number prefer Pergamos, laying stress on the fact that this species was first introduced into Europe by the Crusaders, which is now doubt the reason why in some parts of Southern Europe they are still known by the name of Syrian pears. But the geographer Ritter more than 30 years ago pointed out what seems to be a more probably derivation. A fine and late ripening pear is much cultivated in the neighborhood of Angora, and on account of its lateness in maturing used formerly to be in great favor at Constantinople. It was known as Beg-Armud, or the 'prince pear.' and the Crusaders, who traversed all Asia Minor, brought back with them the name and the fruit."
    ---"Bergamot Pears," New York Times, November 13, 1885 (p. 4)

    "Bergamot Pear--This name is applied to several varieties of pears. The bergamote d'automne (autumn bergamot) is the best."
    ---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne, edited by Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 141)

    "Bergamot...2. Lat. Pyrus communis. One of the oldest Pears known in England, where it was cultivated during the Middle Ages, and may have been introduced by the Romans. The original bergamot is not grown to any extent now. There are two other winter varieties of bergamot pears, B. d'Esperen and B. d'Heimbourg; also an early variety known as Bergamotte de Paques or Easter Beurre. In English literature, up to the nineteenth century, bergamot invariable stands for bergamot pear."
    ---A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy, Andre L. Simon [Harcourt, Brace and Company:New York] 1952 (p. 261)

    Bergamont herb
    "Monarda citriodora...Lemon Beebalm, food, Hopi...Plant boiled and eaten only with hares...Monarda fistulosa...Wildbergamot Beebalm... Food, Cherokee...Species used for food...Flathead, preservative, leaves pulverized and sprinkled on meats as a preservative... Iroquois, beverage, used to make a beverage...Lakota, special food, leaves chewed while people were singing and dancing... Blackfoot, cooking tools, dried flowerheads used by invalids for sucking broth and soup...Monarda fistulosa...Mintleaf Beebalm... Acoma, spice, leaves ground and mixed with sausage for seasoning...Apache, Chiricahua & Mescalero, beverage, leaves and young stems boiled ot make nonintoxicating beverage...spice, leaves used as flavoring...Hopi, dried food, dried in bundles for winter use...Isleta, spice, leaves used for seasoning soups and stews...Laguna, spice, leaves ground and mixed with sausage for seasoning...Pueblo, dried food, dried and stored for winter use, spice, cooked with meats and soups as a flavoring...Monards sp, Mont...Bannock, appetizer, infusion of seed heads used as an appetizer."
    ---Native American Ethnobotany, Daniel E. Moerman [Timber Press:Portland OR] 1998 (p. 346-348)

    "Walk the fields now and you walk with the mints, particularly with the bergamots, those shaggy-headed friends of the bees. There is wild bergamot, there is Oswego tea, and there is bee balm, all of them bergamots and through the names are often ussed interchangeably, they actually denote slight variations within the family. The borderline between tame, or garden, bergamot and the wild bergamots is rather thinly drawn. Many of the tame ones escape and take to the fields; and the wild ones, given a chance, will readily domesticate. Oswego tea is botannically Monarda didyama, a showy plant with scarlet red flowers. Old herbalists brewed a concoction from its leaves and florets, and so did backwoods wives when tea was scarce. It tastes much like any mint tea, not too savory to the average palate. Wild bergamot, which is sometimes called bee balm--Oswego tea is also called bee balm--has a somewhat smaller flower and its color is primarily magenta. A third variety, with no widely known common name, is plentiful in the rolling hill country the foothills of the Catskills and the Berkshires. Its color is a delicate crimson pink, quite different from the usual bergamot color. It stands just now in fine flower and in large beds in those foothills, and to walk through it is like walking through a wave of wild, mintyh fragrance. Other mints, the spearmint, the catnip, the pennyroyal, and even the little creeper, Gill-over-the-ground, are there too, in the firelds and meadows, but it is thebergamot that catches the eye as well as the nose."
    ---"Bergamot," New York Times, August 17, 1952 (p. E8)

    "Bergamot...Botanically the plant is monarda, so named in 1578 by the Spanish physician and botanis Monardes...Apparently monarda is an age old perennial since its discovery dates back to the sixteenth century. English gardeners did not become acquainted with it until 1752. In this country Philadelphians grew it as early as 1748. An old diary of that date records that there 'is a rivalry between hummingbirds for the monarda with the crimson flowers.' In Williamsburg monardaas are now grown in quantity so that it is certain that they were cherished among the 160 flowers, trees and shrubs grown in the gardens of Colonial days."
    ---"One-Sided Pastime," Martha Pratt Haislip, New York Times, September 23, 1956 (p. 159)

    Blueberries are New World foods. European settlers embraced them because they resembled familiar berries, most notably blackberries, whortleberries, and huckleberries. Thrifty colonial cooks found blueberries adapted well to traditional recipes. Blueberries were consumed as fresh fruit, incorporated into baked goods (think: pies, muffins), preserved as jams & jellies and dried, like grapes, for future use.

    "Blueberries come from any number of shrubs of the genus Vaccinium that grow wild over much of the globe and can be found in the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to the jungles of South America. Those indigenous to North America are either highbush...or lowbush...The former type has been commercially cultivated in the United States throughout most of the twentieth century and is considerably larger than its wild counterparts. Blueberries, which look almost the same as huckleberries, keep longer in storage than other berries--in both fresh and frozen forms. Blueberries were an important food for Native Americans, who used them for winter use. The Indians of Alaska have traditionally preserved them in seal oil for consumption in the winter." ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1734)

    "The blueberry is a fruit native to America, whose popularity has soared since its domestication began in the ealry twentieth century. At that time, a scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Frederick Coville, working in conjunction with a grower, Elizabeth White of Whitesbog, New Jersey, began studying the conditions required by the plant and selecting and breeding variations. Despite its small size, the blueberry in not a berry but a pome, as are apples and pear."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 105)

    Native Americans ate blueberries
    "[Early Blueberries, Low Sweet Blueberries]...[Peter] Kalm says the Indians formerly plucked huckleberries in abundance every year, dried them in the sun, and preserved them or eating. In 1615, Champlain found the INidans near Lake Huron gathering blueberries for their winter store. Roger Williams says of the New England Indians theat the 'gathered attitaash, worthleberries, of which there are divers sorts: sweet, like currants, some opening, some of a binding nature. Sautaash are these currants dried and preserved all the year, which they beat to a powder and mingle with their parched meal and make a delicsate dish which they call sautauthig, which is as sweet to them as plum or spice cake to the Rnglsih.' The Indians of the Northwest coast are very fond of this fruit and smoke-dry it in large quantities for winter use."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 587)
    [NOTE: Native American culinary applications, by tribe, are detailed in Native American Food Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary/Daniel E. Moerman]

    Industry experts: Blueberry History/U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

    The huckleberry connection?
    "Although the name for blueberry is now standard for the commerically produced fruit, there has been much confusion in popular nomenclature in the past. New England colonist called the berries hurtleberries (whortleberries), and later huckleberries and no doubt bilberries too."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 83)

    "Huckleberry...any number of a number of shrubs of the genus Gaylussacia bear huckleberries. They are American natives that traveled early to Europe. These blackish berries are often confused with blueberries (to which they are related) and are a great favorite of wildlife as well as humans...One of the many berries that were regular items in the diet of Native Americans...At one time, huckleberries were a staple food for Scottish Highlanders, who made them into --among other things--a wine."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1788)

    How to tell a blueberry from a blue huckleberry?
    "...there are dark-colored or blackish bplueberries as well as decidedly blue huckleberries. But there is a certain way of distinguising the one from the other, for the true blueberries contain numerous fine seeds, whereas the true huckeberries have ten fairly large seeds or 'nutlets' embedded in the pulp."
    ---Foods America Gave the World,, A. Hyatt Verrill [L.C. Page & Company:Boston] 1937 (p. 134)

    Asimina Triloba are fruits native to temperate eastern and central North America. While they grow and fruit prolifically given optimal conditions, thin skin and short ripening period defies cultivation, transportation and commercialization. Researching the history of pawpaws presents a linguistic tangle of alternative names. Some of these names are also names of totally different plants (papayas, custard apples); others are local appellations (Michigan banana, false banana, Indian banana). Spelling variations (papaw, paw-paw) and alternative definitions (in some Appalachian USA regions papaw can also mean grandfather) render this fruit one of the most interesting to subjects for study.

    General overview
    "The North American pawpaw...has a well-established place in folklore and rural culture. 'Way Down Yonder in the Pawpaw Patch' is an America folk song that was quite popular once, and fall hunting for pawpaws in the woods is still a cherished tradition for may rural families. Interest has grown in the pawpaw as a gourmet food. Pawpaws grow wild in the understories of hardwood forests in the eastern United States, ranging from northern Florida to southern Ontario in Canada and as far west as eastern Nebraska. The fruit of the pawpaw can weigh from three or four ounces to a pound and may be born singly or in clusters. pawpaws are highly nutritious, with a strong aroma and a unique flavor that resembles a combination of banana, mango, and pineapple. Pawpaws are ripe with soft and are usually harvested from September to October across their native range. When ripe, skin color ranges from green to yellow and flesh color ranges from creamy white to shades of orange. The fruit should be harvested prior to the first frost. Pulp from the fruit can be eaten fresh or cooked. The flavor of the fruit can intensify when it is overripe, as with bananas, resulting in pulp that is excellent for use in cooking. The seed and skin are generally not eaten. Local delicacies made from fruit pulp include ice cream, compote, jam, pie, custard, and wine."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor, [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, volume 2 (p. 244) ?

    Dictionary definitions & early print references
    "Papaw, also pawpaw. 1. Any one of the various North American trees or shrubs of the genus Asimina, esp. A. triloba...1709 Lawson, Carolina 105 'The Papau is not a large Tree.' 1985 Washington Diaries II 347 'Panted my Cedars, all my Papaw, and two Honey locust Trees in my Shrubberies. ' 1875 Amer. Naturalist IX 390 'The pawpaw, persimmon and pecan are found more or less abundantly over the southern two-thirds [of Illinois]."
    ---A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historic Principles, Mitford M. Mathews, editor [University of Chicago Press:Chicago IL] 1951 (p. 1195) ?

    "Pawpaw....Name in U.S. for a small N. American tree, Asimina triloba...with dull purple flowers and ovate leaves...or or its oblong edible fruit, about 3 or 4 inches long, with beanlike seeds embedded in a sweet pulp...1760 J. Lee, Introd. Bot. App. 321, 'Papaw-tree of North America..'"
    ---Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition ?

    AKA Papayas & Custard Apples?
    "Generally mentioned as one of the many foods that sustained native Americans, the papaw is central to a muddle of nomenclature because its names, 'papaw' and pawpaw,' probably came from 'papaya,' a fruit to which it is not related. Nor is the 'custard apple' an appropriate nickname, because it is generally one of the names given to the cherimoya--also not a relative."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1828)
    [NOTES: (1) This book describes the papaya (Carica papaya) as "an evergreen with a palmlike appearance. it is native to tropical Mesoamerica, is related to the gourd, melon, and pumpkin family, and may represent an ancient fusion of two or more species of the genus Carica, native to Mexico and Central America...The papaya is sometimes wrongly called 'pawpaw' or 'papaw.' Although papayas are grown throughout the world's tropical regions, most of those reaching U.S. consumers are the pear-shaped Solo varieties from Hawaii..." (p. 1828) (2) "The term 'custard apple' is the nickname for the cherimoya but also refers to its close relative, the fruit known around the world as custard apple (Annona reticulata). Also called 'bullock's-heart,' it is a native of the American tropics, grows on a small tree with yellow flowers, is almost round and up to 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and has a tough skin, which protects a creamy white flesh of thick custard-like consistence. its flavor is not especially appreciated by many...but it is nonetheless widely cultivated in the West Indies, tropical Africa, and Southeast Asia. The custard apple, although generally eaten raw, is also used as a flavoring for milk shakes and the like." (p. 1766)] ?

    Culinary applications
    "Asimina triloba--pawpaw, Michigan banana, False banana...Soft, creamy fruits have the flavor of banana custard and are delicious eaten out of hand. They can also be used for making preserves, pies, ice cream, cookies, cakes and other sweet desserts. North America."
    ---Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants, Stephen Facciola [Kampong Publications:Vista CA] 1998 (p. 13)

    Flavor & texture
    "Pawpaw. Middle and southern United States. All parts of the tree have a rank smell, and the fruit is relished by few...Vasey says the fruit, about four inches long, when ripe has a rich, luscious taste. 'The pulp of the fruit,' says Flint, 'resembles egg-custard in consistence and appearance. It has the same creamy feeling in the mouth and unites the taste of eggs, cream, sugar and spice. It is a natural custard, too luscious for the relish of most. The fruit is nutritious...'"
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon Company:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 71)
    [NOTES: (1) The full entry suggests pawpaws were foods of the lower classes, not commonly used by European-American middle/upper class families. (2) On p. 142 of this book the word "pawpaw" is listed as an alternative term for Papaya, a tropical fruit of South America and the Indies."]

    "An alluvial soil, coated with a deep leaf mould, and somewhat silicious, is what the tree chooses to grow in; and it likes to be overshadowed. I find the best fruit maturing in in thick woods of planc, tulip and maple, on the flatlands close to brook sides. There is a damp, rich, musty smell by which, in the twilight of such a forest, you may distinguish the atmosphere dear to the pawpaw...Long, banana-like, brown and yellow, the heavy custard apples almost cover the ground in some places, while a few crowded clusters still hang on the boughs...the smack of a pawpaw goes through me like a multiform thrill. It is sweet with all the sweets of past days and the lingerings and truancies...There is a mingling of a hundred fine sweets and savory tangs in the juice of this rank apple, and it goes well with spitted, dark-flesh game...But year by year this golden ambrosial fruit is disappearing. The farmer's ax whacks down all the sturdy clumps and no man plants seeds for future orchards. From Indiana to Georgie [sic] how few of the once-flourishing pawpaw thickets are left..."
    ---"The Luscious Pawpaw. A Lover of the Fruit Grows Enthusiastic Over the Custard Apple," Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1897 (p. 8)

    "The joyous days are here for those old-fashioned folks who still cling to the belief that the pawpaw is an edible fruit. The pawpaw is with us again. We are told, and we must confess that the information comes to us unsought and creates not particular thrill of enthusiasm, that there is a bumper corp of pawpaws this year. Having parted company with the pawpaws many years ago, on first acquaintance. In fact, we wonder at the bent of Nature that hands us a bumper crop of papwpaws and at the same time blights the corn crop. It may as well be admitted that this ode to the pawpaw is written by one whose taste for the fruit--if it may be called a fruit--refused to be educated. On that particular subject, our taste boiled its educational career in the primary department, and refused to take up the stay again. But, be that as it may, we have great respect for the pawpaw because of its history, association and memories...We were touch in common with young America everywhere in that day, to have a deep and lasting respect, almost reverence for the pawpaw. For that reason we never threw them at the birds or played shiny with them, although it required, sometimes, the courage of a Daniel to resist those temptations. We have frequently wondered why people even said they liked them, and at the same time we have been compelled to acknowledge the exemplary and unimpeachable character of the witness for the defense...We recall the good old days when we went pawpaw hunting with granddad--and we have a mighty taste for those old memories...[Kansas City Times]"
    ---"The Pawpaw. An Appreciation by a Reminiscent Missouri Editor, Los Angeles Times, October 26, 1919 (p. III36)

    "The season of the pawpaw is here. The pawpaw is the most neglected of American fruits; few people like it, and some say it is as despised as the mule and as unpopular as the shitepoke. People always laugh when the pawpaw is mentioned, though why, Heaven knows. For it has a rich and luscious flavor--not unlike the custard apple of the Hesperides. it digests easily in the human stomach, and cheers but does not ingratiate. yet humanity has left it alone. It crowns no festal board. It forms the centre of no famous dish. The pawpaw is not pickled, preserved, dried or stored away against any day of want. No pawpaw pie or pawpaw pudding is known to man; the pawpaw stewed or baked or fried never has appeared upon any housewife's table, however humble it may be. In all the famine that followed the droughts of the early days of the pioneers when want was forever peering around the corner of tomorrow, no one even turned to the pawpaw for preservation...Probably the pawpaw's limitation comes from the fact that it is hard to eat with any dignity. Now woman would dare eat a pawpaw in the presence of her lover; the sight is disgusting to the point of utter disillusion. Byron is said to have hated to see a woman spit. If he could have seen a woman eat a pawpaw, he would have been a different man. 'Don Juan' might never have been written. No on can eat a pawpaw who is not willing to revert to barbarism, to jump back to the forest. A pawpaw probably was intended for a feast in the tree crotch, where spitting seeds is easy and natural...So, we have the pawpaw neglected. Some other age may come to the pawpaw and find there the elixir of youth, the nectar of the gods, the fountain of immortality. For surely wise nature has not created so delicious a fruit in vain. Man is not up to the pawpaw yet...Emporia Daily Gazette."
    ---"Pawpaw, Most Neglected American Fruit," New York Times, November 19, 1922 (p. 98)

    "The Department of Agriculture today declared unequivocally that persimmons are 'good eating.' The same claim was made for pawpaws, Juneberries, buffalo berries, the high-bush cranberry of the Great Plains,the Western sand cherry and elderberries. Not only are ..[they] palatable...but they merit, in addition to 'useful' and 'valuable,' such warmer adjectives as 'excellent,' delicious' and rich.' There is however, a good reason for this official lyricism--the war. With sugar becoming more scarce by the day, 'so much natural sweetness should be appreciated...In times like these, American housewives will be wise to get acquainted with their native wild fruits...The pawpaw or 'Indian banana' is similarly nourishing, being high in calories and protein, and its fruit 'is rich, highly perfumed, about as soft as custard.'"
    ---"Pawpaw Recommended by U.S. Food Experts...," United Press, New York Times, April 21, 1942 (p. 26)

    "The pawpaw appears to be a 'widowed' species that has survived from some earlier distribution in these temperature latitudes. The 'literature' consists of just two articles. H.P. Gould in 1939 wrote a thin leaflet, 'The Native Papaw' (Department of Agriculture, No. 129)....The other treatise, by H.A. Allard, was published in 'Atlantic Naturalist' ' the March-April 1955, issue...You are likely to encounter the trees as you stroll over bottomland along streams...They like the protection of some forest cover...The fruiting season of the early and late varieties extends from late August until well into November. Picked before ripe, the pawpaw does not soften or develop its aromatic quality. It must ripen on the tree and fall to the ground before it is really edible. At that time its skin is green, its flesh soft and creamy whitish or yellowish...The fruit...has a somewhat laxative property and is rich in Vitamin C...The Indians not only ate the pawpaw in season but made ropes, fishing nets, cloth and bags of its tough inner bark."
    ---"Pawpaw Fruit Delicacy You Can Enjoy on Hike, Aubrey Graves, County Life Editor, Washington Post, October 28, 1955 (p. 51) [NOTES (1):
    The Native Pawpaw/Gould is available online, thank you University of North Texas! (2) Updated bibliography, courtesy of Kentucky State University.]

    "The pawpaw harvest is in. The fruit has gone to market--what little market there is. And the Johnny Appleseed of pawpaws is waxing poetic. ..The taste is a 'symphony of flavors in your mouth. It's like the finest custard you ever ate,' He is R. Neal Peterson, a 45-year-old agricultural economist who has spent much of his free time since 1979 studying the fruit. The Washington D.C. resident grew up eating wild pawpaws in West Virginia and developed a scientific interest in the tree when he was in college studying plant genetics. He took pity on the poor pawpaw. Around the turn of the century, the fruit, native to the Central and Southern U.S., had actually been quite popular. A children's song was written about it...Towns and streams ain Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky were named after it. And during the Depression, some people who couldn't afford to buy food lived on the fruit of the pawpaw. But the pawpaw went into decline as the banana became very popular in the U.S. during World War II, and as the population became more urban and thus less likely to encounter wild pawpaw trees. The pawpaw, a fruit of the custard apple family that resembles a green potato or a mango with bright yellow flesh, also has some built-in commercial disadvantages: It is thin-skinned and doesn't travel well. 'I though this was one of the most overlooked trees in the country,' Mr. Peterson says. 'It hasn't been domesticated. It hasn't received thousands of years of breeding like apples and apricots...Through proper selection and breeding, Mr. Peterson hopes one day to grow a pawpaw that has fewer of those large reddish-brown seeds...which are annoyingly numerous and can account for about 20% of a fruit's weight. Right now, harvested pawpaws, picked soft or taken when they fall from the tree, keep only for about two days...About five years ago, Mr. Peterson set up the PawPaw Foundation to further the scientific study of his favorite fruit...Guy Reinhold, executive chef for the Stouffer Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, created a pawpaw salsa and pawpaw chutney to go with some of his seafood and chicken dishes. 'The flavor blends with anything...It's pretty versatile, but you have to use it fast.'"
    ---Neal Peterson's Goal Is to Domesticate the World Pawpaw," Elena Liser, Wall Street Journal, November 18, 1993 (p. A1) [NOTE: Neal Peterson's pawpaw web flourishes in 2013.]

    "The pear originated in the general region of the Caucausus, as did its cousin the apple; and both fruits were spread by the Aryan tribes from that area as they migrated into Europe and N. India. Both belong to the rose family, Rosaceae. The orginal wild pear has been developed into what are now nearly 1,000 varieties, after a certain amoung of interbreeding with other native wild pears of Europe and Asia...In ancient times the pear was generally considered a better fruit than the apple. Thus in China only one variety of apple was known until the end of the Sung dynasty (AD 1279), but there were many varieties of pear. In classical Greece and Rome a similar preference was evident. Around 300BC the Greek writer Theophrastus discussed the growing of pears, including advanced techniques such as grafting and cross-pollination. Two centuries later, in Rome, Pliny the Elder described 41 varieties, whereas his parallel list of apples was much shorter. During the Middle Ages the pear was especially popular in France and Italy, and most pears grown in Britain were from French stock. However, the famous warden pear was of British origin; it was raised by Cistercian monks at an abbey in Bedfordshire. So important did it become as a cooking pear that it was regarded as a fruit in its own right; one finds reference to 'wardens and pears'. Although pears for dessert were prized, it is noticeable that the balance between them and cooking pears was much more even in the past than it became in the 19th anc 20th centuries...In the 17th century pear-growing in France was at its height and many new varieties were developed. Louis XIV was particularly interested in fruit and vegetables and the pear was one of his favourite fruits... There are no native American pears. The pear was introduced into N. America in 1629, when the Massachusetts Company ordered pear seeds from England. Because the first American pears were raised from seed which, like that of the apple, does not breed true to variety, American pears became even more diverse than their European ancestors and many good, purely American strains arose. In New England, during the 19th century, an extraordinary degree of enthusiasm for pears developed, so extraordinary that it deserved the name 'pearmania'."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 590)

    "Pear, tree fruit presumably domesticated in the southern Caucases and northeastern Anatolia. This is the native habitat of the two wild species of which the cultivated pear is a cross. Its westward spread was speeded by grafting on several speciees native to the Near East and southern Europe, including the Greek species Pyrus spinosa. In Classical Greece the cultivated pear was recognized to be a relative of the native wild pear but not a direct offshoot. It is among the typical orchard fruits listed in Odysseus's description of the gardens of Alcinous in the Odyssey."
    ---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 253)

    What were Bergamot pears?

    Pear cookery
    The Romans ate pears, like apples, both raw and cooked. The less exquisite fruits were made into perry, or into pear vinegar...The Byzantines feasted on pears in jelly, pear preserves, pears cooked in wine or in ocxymel (a syrup of vinegar and honey). The Roman spread the cultivation of the pear."
    ---History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell [Barnes & Noble Books:New York] 1992 (p. 637)

    "From a clever object-lesson taught to a courtesan in a play by Alexis we know that pears were served as a dessert or at symposia in classical Athens...From Roman sources we know other ways in which pears were used. They could be cooked with wine and water to make a kind of pulmentarium, as Pliny describes it. They were conserved in grape syrup, and also dried, for use over the winter--an important point becuase pears are at their peak of ripeness only for a short tiem (which made them a good example for the courtesan's best firend to use) and must be conserved in some way if they are not to be wasted. By late Roman times perry (an alcoholic drink analogous to cider), pear vinegar and pear liquamen were all being manufactred, as shown by Palladius; pear liquamen served as a vegetarian alternative to garum."
    ---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 253)

    Pears Syrup, a popular Medieval dessert of the weathy classes.

    Pears in America
    "There are no native American pears. The pear was introduced to N. America in 1629, wehn the Massachusetts Company ordered pear seeds from England. Because the first American pears were raised from seed which, like that of the apple, does not breed true to variety, American pears became even more diverse than their European ancestors and many good, purely Americans strains arose. In New England, during the 19th century, an extraordinary degree of enthusiasm for pears developed, so extraordinary that it deserved the name pearmania'. This phenomenon has been described, along with other remarkable features of the history of the pear by Ian Jackson."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 590)
    [NOTE: Mr. Jackson's history is: "Fragments of the History of the Pear," Petits Propos culinares 49. Your librarian can help you obtain a copy of this article.]

    "The variety known as Bartlett is a late-colonial introduction from England, by scion or dormant tree. It is the eighteenth-century English variety Williams Bon Cretien and was "discovered" in 1817 in the Enoch Bartlett in Massachusetts, propagated by many nurserymen in the succeeding decades, and subsequently sold bearing his name...Seckle and Bartlett were the chief pears of the nineteeth-century American market."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 249-250)

    What was "Pearmania?"
    Throughout history,
    pears have been associated with the wealthier classes. This non-pedestrian fruit was cultivated in great estates and relished by nobles throughout Europe. This passion was introduced to North America (there are no native American pears) by early European colonists. New England's "Pear mania" (circa 1820-1870) was a pasttime of the upper class. These prized pears were not for sale; they were offered to honored guests. It is interesting to note that New England cookbooks published in this period contain very few pear recipes. Stewed pears and pear tarts are the norm. This suggests (perhaps) pears were not widely consumed by the general public.

    "From approximately 1820 to 1870 a mania for pears raged in New England, particularly in eastern Massachusetts. Gentlemen farmers vied to produce the most luscious specimens of fine European pears and in the selection of seedling varieties. They savored the fruits in the library as an occasion for male bonding and connoisseurship, much as they played golf and smoked cigars together in later periods. Once California started shipping tons of fruit by rail car to the east, interest in the pear as a status symbol diminished."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor in chief [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 530)

    Pear symbolism & lore
    "People in much of Europe viewed the pear as a symbol of fertility and womanhood. The fruit had a shape similar to that of a woman's body as well as that of the womb...Some Europeans also recognize longevity and even immortality in their pears. A Gaelic legend referred to apples of Avalon as pears, and these fruits grew in paradise and held the secret to everlasting life..."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 172)

    Persimmons (Diospyros) are indigenous to both old world and new. They are commonly found in North America, China, India and Japan. Old world persimmons were known to ancient cooks and were assigned spiritual significance. New world persimmons were enjoyed by Native Americans in a variety of ways, including a beer-type product. This fruit was shared with 16th European explorers, who eventually incorporated it into many traditional European recipes. Commodore M.C. Perry is credited for introducing oriental varieties to North America in the mid-19th century (there are conflicting stories regarding the exact date). These trees flourished in Florida and California. Most persimmons consumed in America today are of the oriental variety.

    Origin, dispersion & description
    "Persimmon. Although there are persimmon trees that are native to North America, the orange-red persimmon (Diospyros khaki) that North Americans usually consume originated in Asia. This persimmon is native to China but is known as the Japanese persimmon because it has been cultivated mostly in Japan. Today, however, the fruit is also cultivated in the south of France and some of the Mediterranean countries, where it was introduced in the early nineteenth century, and in the southern United States and California, where it arrived in 1870."
    ---The Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas, [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1833)

    "Persimmons are species of Diospyros, a genus of Ebanacae, a family renowned for its tropical Asian and African members that since antiquity have provided ebony-wood to the high civilizations of the Old World. Several species of Diospyros also provide edible fruits, with three of them well-known for their contribution to human diet. The three are indigenous mainly to the temperate and sub-tropical regions of Asia or North America. The "common persimmon," D. Virginiana, is native to the eastern woodlands of the United States...The "date-plum" of the Mediterranean, D. Lotus, is native to an area stretching from southeastern Europe to northwest India, China and Japan, and is cultivated in certain places, among them southern Europe, northwest India, and China....Both of the above species not only provide fruit but may be used as rootstock for the third, and most important commercial species, D. Khaki...the "Japanese persimmon," long important in Japan, China, and Korea, and introduced to the United States in the nineteenth century."
    ---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 213-16)

    "Persimmon: a fruit concerning which there is much confusion of information--and misinformation--even in works otherwise generally reliable. This is probably due to the fact that there are two distinct fruit bearing the title--the North America and the Japanese--belonging to the same class and both now grown in this country, but with many points of difference in size and character…The native American Persimmon is about the size of a small plum and grows on a big tree which often reaches a height of sixty feet. The Japanese Persimmon ranges from the size of a peach, to that of a small melon, and is bourne by a tree that is comparatively small. The American is at its best after it has been touched by frost. It becomes then a veritable sugarplum--its sweetness has earned for it the nickname of the American 'Date Plum', and the oddly wrinkled lumps of richly concentrated sugar-flesh hanging among the vari-colored leaves of autumn are as eagerly sought by 'Possums' an other wild creatures as by human beings. The Japanese Persimmon, or 'Ka-Ki', or 'Chinese Fig', varies widely in quality and shape--from the inclined to be tasteless and dry, to a delicious and juicy type: from perfectly round, to extremely elongated in shape. It is as rich in food values as the banana. It will probably receive much more attention in the future, as it is readily suseptible to cultivation, produces with prodigal abundance and stands shipment well. ...Unlike the American variety, the Japanese does not need the frost touch, but neither is it damaged as are most either fruits. It is just right for eating when the skin first begins to wrinkle In addition to their excellence for eating raw, both fruits can be easily and successfully dried for future use. The American and the 'chocolate' or dark-meated varieties of the Japanese also lend themselves readily to a great variety of preserves, and in several parts of the South the ground roasted seeds are as a substitute for coffee."Grocer's Encyclopedia [1919]
    "Diospyros kaki. Japanese Persimmon. Kaki, Keg-Fog. Japan. This plant has been cultivated for a long period and has produced many varieties some of which are seedless. The as large as an ordinary apple, of a bright color, and contains a semi-transparent pulp. The tree is cultivated in India and China and was seen in Japan by Thunberg, 1776. It was introduced in the United States from Japan by the Perry expedition and one of these trees is still growing in Washington. About 1864, others were imported; in 1877, 5000 plants in ten varieties were brought to America. This persimmon is now grown in California, Georgia and elsewhere. The fruit is described as delicious by all who have eaten the best varieties...

    "Diospyros virginiana. Persimmon. North America, found wild and from the 42nd parallel to Texas, often attaining the size of a large tree. This plant is the persimmon, pikakmine, or pessimmon of America, called by the Loiusiana natives ougoufle. Loaves made of the substance of prunes 'like unto brickes' were seen by DeSoto on the Mississippi. It is callled mespilorum by LeMoyne in Florida; 'mespila unfit to eat until soft and tender' by Hariot on the Roanoke; pessimmens by Strachey on the James River; and medlars on the Hudson by the remonstrants against the policy of Stuyvesant. The fruit is plum-like, about an inch in diameter, exceedingly astringent when green, yellow when ripe, and sweet edible after exposure to frost. Porcher says the fruit, when matured, is very sweet and pleasant to the taste and yields on distillation, after fermentation, a quantity of spirits. A beer is made of it. Mixed with flour, a pleasant bread may be prepared..." ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon Company:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 243-244)
    [NOTE: Other Diospyros varieties listed in this book come from East Indies, Philippine Islands, Cochin China, Temperate Asia, Ceyonk, Eastern tropical Australia, Jamaica, and Mexico.]

    Additional varieties & growing conditions (current)
    Japanese persimmons/Morton
    Persimmons/California Rare Fruit Growers

    Persimmon history/New World
    "The British first encountered the persimmon in Virginia in the early seventeenth century, a fact revealed by the name they gave to it: persimmon is a somewhat garbled version of a word in one of the Algonquin languages of North America, perhaps Cree pasiminan or Lenape pasimenan (the earliest recorded attempt at it is English is in Captain John Smith's Map of Virginia (1612): the fruit like melders; they call Putchamins, they cast upon hurdles on a mat, and preserve them as Prunes'). Most persimmons available in Europe, however, are of the related Japanese variety...Somewhat resembling large orange tomatoes, they have a bitter-sweet slightly mucilaginous flesh which only develops to full sweetness and fragrance when the fruit is very ripe."
    ---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 251-2)

    "The accepted story about the persimmon is that when Europeans first encountered it in America they found it too acid to eat and abandoned it until the Indians explained to them that it becomes sweet and palatable after the first frost. Writers ever since...have been stating confidently, that it is frost which tames the persimmon. It isn't The Indians must have known better, but their calendar was nature, and when they said that persimmons were best after the first frost, they were only dating this phenomenon in terms which for them were equivalent to Euell Gibbons's statement that persimmons are best in October They did not mean that frost causes the persimmon to lose its astrigency and reveal its basic sweetness. It is probably the latest ripener of all tree fruits..The first Europeans to encounter the persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, were either the Spanish conquistadors, who fed largely on the during their grueling marh...from Florida to New Mexico, or Herandez de Soto, who reported circa 1540 that he had found the Indians along the Mississippi eating bread made of 'prunes' (they dried the persimmons before converting them into a sort of dough)..."
    ---Food, Waverly Root [Smithmark:New York] 1980, 1996 (p. 346)
    [NOTE: This book contains far more information than we can paraphrase.]

    "Persimmon or American persimmon...(Diospyros virginiana)The name persimmon comes from putchamin', a phonetic rendering of the name used by the American Indians of the Algonquin tribe. They ate them when they were ripe and had fallen from the tree and dried them to be eaten in the winter. The first European to write about the fruit was probably the Spanish explorer Don Fernando de Soto, who learned about it from the Indians of Florida in 1539. Captain John Smith, in the 17th century, likened it to the medlar...Ripe persimmons were eaten by the settlers, or used in puddings, breads, preserves, etc. But the production of persimmon (or ‘simmon') beer and wine and other alcoholic drinks was an equally important use...During the 19th century and the early years of the 20th there was considerable interest in the development of improved persimmons, based for example on the Early Golden cultivar which originated in Illinois; but this was largely stifled by the introduction of the khaki to California...There is one other persimmon native to America, D. Texense, known as the chapote, or black or Mexican persimmon. Its range includes Central and Western Texas and parts of Mexico."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 596-7)

    "Persimmon...Also called "date plum." A tree chiefly of the tropics bearing a late-ripening orange-red fruit. The word is from the Algonquin, akin to the Cree word for dried fruit, pasiminan, first appearing in print as "putchamin" in 1612, then in its present form in 1709...The earliest explorers and colonists of the New World were fascinated by the persimmon. Hernando de Soto, in about 1540, compared it with the Spanish red plum and preferred the persimmon. John Smith in Virginia at the beginning of the seventeenth century called it "one of the most palatable fruits of this land," something like an apricot. Not every settler agreed...The Native Americans made it into beer, which the colonists soon adapted, and bread, which in Missouri was called "stanica."...The Native "American persimmon" was eventually pushed aside as a commercial crop in favor of the "Japanese persimmon", which may have been introduced to the United States in 1855 by Commodore Matthew C. Perry. In the South persimmon seeds are ground to be used as a coffee substitute, and throughout the Southeast and Midwest persimmon pudding is a Thanksgiving tradition. "Locust beer" is made persimmons and locusts."
    ---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 237-8)

    American recipes
    Michigan State University's Feeding America digitized historic cookbooks returns two recipes, beer & bread. Search persimmon either as recipe title or ingredient.

    Mythology & symbolism
    "Persimmons...The bright color of persimmons, combined with their sweet flavor and aromatic scent, made them particularly alluring, and led some people of times past to identify these fruits as the golden apples in the Greek myth of the Garden of the Hesperides. The Chinese...have a high regard for persimmons, and because of their bright color, consider them symbols of joy. Many varieties of the fruit grown in China. Scholars have found remains of these fruits in ancient tombs and mention of them in ancient writings, suggesting that the Chinese regarded persimmons as valuable fruit far back in history. The Chinese continue to use persimmons as offerings to the moon goddess Heng O...To this day, the Chinese not only present these fruits to their moon goddess but they also make dried fruits or cakes out of persimmons and give them as gifts. They also attribute healing and fertilizing powers to persimmons because of their many seeds."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 176-7)

    Watermelons were consumed by the earliest civilizations. Treasured for their juicy refreshment, they provided sustenance in times of drought. Did Cleopatra eat watermelons? Historic evidence suggests she did. Watermelons were introduced to the New World by Euopean explorers. They thrived, multiplied, and grew to epic proportions. In the American colonies, watermelons were sometimes called "American Citrons."
    Seedless watermelons were introduced in 1949.

    "Watermelon...A native of Africa...It reached the Middle East, India, and what is now Russia in prehistoric times, was consumed in Egypt and ancient Persia some 6,000 years ago, and was later cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Chinese were growing the fruit by the tenth century A.D.; it entered Europe through Spain with the Moors and reached the Americas via the slave trade."
    ---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2001, Volume Two (p. 1877)

    "Watermelon, fruit domesticated in prehistoric times in the deserts of northern Africa or southwestern Asia. Watermelons were cultivated in Egypt by 2000 BC and were known in the Aegean region by around 1000 BC; their seeds have been found at sites including Kastanas. They are not commonly mentioned in classical literature but are familiar from dietary texts... Watermelons are to be eaten with vinegar and pennyroyal, accoridng to Anthimus."
    ---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 347)

    "The best known species of Citrullus is the water-melon which grows wild in large tracts of Africa and is an extremely important souce of water in dry periods. Its cultivation is of very great antiquity as can be seen from its many and varied names in different languages. This was the melon for which the Israelites pined in their desert wanderings. It was widely cultivated in Ancient Egypt and its seeds and leaves have been foundamong funerary offerings in Egyptian tombs."
    ---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore MD] 1998 (p. 127)

    Watermelon in America
    "The Spanish introduced watermelons into the Caribbean and Florida and later into the American Southwest. Early French explorers and trappers plantd watermelon seeds in Canada and subsequently the Midwest and along the Mississippi River System. The first known references to watermelons in the English colonies are from Massacusetts, dated 1629...Watermelons also grew easily in other colonies; they were a field crop in many places and were commonly consumed throughout colonial America. Amelia Simmons published a watermelon recipe in her American Cookery (1796), an most nineteenth-century cookbooks included directions for serving them cold and recipes with watermelons as ingredients...chilled watrmelon was a a favorite picnic food; the fruit was eaten as a snack and incorporated into salads, desserts, and preserves...and spicy pickled rind served as a condiment with meats. Watermelons were also used to flavor ice cream and other frozen desserts...It also has been fermented to make wine and other alcoholic beverages, which became a specialty item in the South...Beginning in the 1830s medical professionals proclaimed watermelons were deleterious to health, a view that survived for decades. The cookbook writer Pierre Blot pronounced in his Hand-Book of Practical Cookery, for Ladies and Professional Cooks (1867) that watermelons were 'considered very unwholesome by the great majority of doctors, chemists, and physiologists.' Most Americans continued eating watermelons despite the warnings."
    ---The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Pres:New York] 2004, volume 2 (p. 597-598)
    [NOTE: Early American cookbooks called watermelons "American Citrons." Amelia Simmons' recipe here.]

    "The watermelon has succeeded especially well under American culture, the varieties being many in number and continuously increasing, either through imporation or through the process of selection. The size has also become enormous selected specimins sometimes weighing 96 pounds or even more. The varietes vary in shape from round to oblong and in color from a light green to almost a black, self-colored or striped with paler green or marbled. The flesh may be whtie, cream-color, honey-color, pale red, red or scarlet. The seeds are white, white with two black spots, cream-colored tipped with brown and a brown stripe around the edge, yellow with a black strip round the margin and with black spots, dark brown, reddish-brown, russet-brown, black, cultured or as if engraved with ornamental characters, and pink or red. The watermelon is mentioned by the early botanists and described as of large size, but it must be considered that this fruit even now is not a successfully grwon in Europe as in more southern countries. That none or few types have originated under modern culture is indicated by an examination into the early records...Cardanus, 1556, writes that the size is sometimes so great that a man can scarcely embrace the fruit with his expanded arms. Marcgravius, 1648, described thos of Brazil as being as large as a man's head...This melon is said to have ben introduced to Britain in 1597. By European was carried to Brazil and the West Indies, to eastern North America, to the islands of the Pacific, to New Zealand and Australia. Watermelons are mentiond by Master Graves as abounding in Massachusetts in 1629...Before 1664...watermelons were cultivated by the Florida Indians. In 1673, Father Marquette, who descended the Wisconsin and Mississipi Rivers, speaks of melons 'whoch are excellent, especially those with a red seed.' In 1822...of the Illinois Region: 'Watermelons are also in great plenty, of vast size; sime I suppose weigh 20 pounds...They are round or oblong, generally green, or a green and whitish color on the outside, and white or pale on the inside, with many black seeds in them, very juicy, in flavor like rich water, and sweet...In 18747 Jared Eliot mentions watermelons in Connecticut, the seed of which came originally from Archangel in Russia. IN 1799, watermelons were raised by the tribes on the Colorado River."
    ---Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants, edited by U.P. Hedrick, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1919 II [J.B. Lyon Co.:Albany NY] 1919 (p. 169-172)

    "The American Citron

    Take the rine of a large watermelon not too ripe, cut it into small pieces, take two pound of loaf sugar, one pint of water, put it all into a kettle, let it boil gently for four hours, then put it into pots for use."
    American Cookery, Amelia Simmons
    Additional information.

    Recommended reading:
    Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants/E. Lewis Sturtevant [1919]

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    Research conducted by Lynne Olver, editor The Food Timeline. About this site.
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    25 January 2015