TODAY'S QUOTATIONLiterary MenusAlphabet of RecipesHistorical PrescriberIFAQs
Food in the Ancient World ExtraDangerous Tastes ExtraDictionary of Languages ExtraNotes in the Margin Extra

STREET OF THE BOOKSELLERS

HOMETHE BOOKSHELVESTHE WHOLE WORLD DICTIONARYLANGUAGE INDEXWORK BY ANDREW DALBYLINKS

CLICK HERE TO BUY DANGEROUS TASTES FROM AMAZON.CO.UK OR AMAZON.COM OR IN EUROPE FROM ALAPAGE.COM

Dangerous Tastes Extra

Especially for readers of Dangerous Tastes (British Museum Press and University of California Press, 2000) additions, corrections and afterthoughts will be added regularly to this page. Also available is a series of updates to the lists of Further Reading and Source Texts, and a page of Food A to Z links

For additions posted during the current month click here

The Spice Orchard of the Roman de la Rose

Addition to page 12 of Dangerous Tastes

In a dream sequence near the beginning of the medieval French classic, the Roman de la Rose, Guillaume de Lorris describes an imaginary orchard planted with the most exotic of spices and the most desirable of fruits. In Dangerous Tastes I give a short extract in English translation. Here's the whole orchard, in Old French with an English translation to follow:

Pomiers i ot, bien m'en sovient,
qui chargoient pomes guernades,
c'est uns fruiz mout bons a malades.
De noiers i ot a foison,
qui chargoient en la seson
tel fruit come sont nois mugades,
qui ne sont ameres ne fades.
Alemandiers i ot planté
que l'en ot ou vergier planté;
maint figuier et maint bon datier
i trovoit qui en ot mestier.
Il ot ou vergier meint espice,
clos de girofle et ricalice,
graine de paradis novele,
citoaut, anis et canele,
et maint espice delitable
que bon mangier fet aprés table.
El vergier ot arbres domesches
qui chargoient et coinz et pesches,
chastaines, noiz, pomes et poires,
nesfles, prunes blanches et noires,
cereses fresches vermeilleites,
cormes, alies et noiseites.
De granz loriers et de haus pins
fu pueplez trestoz li jardins,
et d'oliviers et de ciprés
avoit il ou vergier adés.
Ormes i ot, branchuz et gros,
et aveques charmes et fos,
coudres droites, trembles et fresnes,
arables, hauz sapinz et chesnes.

There were apple trees, I remember, heavily laden with pomegranates, a fruit so good for the sick; walnut trees whose fruits in season were like nutmegs, neither bitter nor bland. The planter of the orchard had set out almond trees, and those whose worked there found many fig trees and many good date trees. In that orchard grew many a spice: cloves and liquorice, fresh grains of Paradise, zedoary, anise, cinnamon and every delectable spice that is good to taste after the meal. In that orchard there were cultivated trees heavily laden with quinces and peaches, chestnuts, walnuts, apples and pears, yellow and purple plums, little red cherries, sorbs, serviceberries and hazelnuts. The whole garden was populated with bay trees and tall pines, and in the orchard there were plenty of olive trees and cypresses. There were elms, big and spreading, and alongside them hornbeams and beeches, straight-stemmed hazels, aspens and ashes, maples, firs and oaks. (Roman de la Rose lines 1328-1358)

The trick with the first four lines is that, in Old French, pomegranates were called literally 'grainy apples' and nutmegs were called 'musky walnuts': hence it made literal sense to have them grow on apple and walnut trees respectively.

Geoffrey Chaucer translated this text into English around 1370; he managed to fit gingere into the list of spices, alongside notemigges, clow-gelofre [cloves], canelle [cinnamon] and setewale [zedoary].

Ther were, and that wot I ful wel,
Of pomegarnettes a ful gret del;
That is a fruyt ful wel to lyke,
Namely to folk whan they ben syke.
And trees ther were, greet foisoun,
That baren notes in his sesoun
Such as men notemigges calle,
That swote of savour been withalle.
And alemandres greet plentee,
Figes, and many a date-tree
Ther weren, if men hadde nede,
Through the yerd in length and brede.
Ther was eek wexing many a spyce,
As clow-gelofre, and licoryce,
Gingere, and greyn de par[ad]ys,
Canelle, and setewale of prys,
And many a spyce delitable
To eten whan men ryse fro table.
And many hoomly trees ther were
That peches, coynes, and apples bere,
Medlers, ploumes, peres, chesteynes,
Cheryse, of whiche many on fayn is,
Notes, aleys, and bolas,
That for to seen it was solas.
With many high lorer and pyn
Was renged clene al that gardyn;
With cipres, and with oliveres,
Of which that nigh no plente here is.
Ther were elmes grete and stronge,
Maples, asshe, ook, asp, planes longe,
Fyn ew, popler, and lindes faire,
And othere trees ful many a payre.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DANGEROUS TASTES FROM AMAZON.CO.UK OR AMAZON.COM OR IN EUROPE FROM ALAPAGE.COM

TODAY'S QUOTATIONLiterary MenusAlphabet of RecipesHistorical PrescriberIFAQs
Food in the Ancient World ExtraDangerous Tastes ExtraDictionary of Languages ExtraNotes in the Margin Extra

STREET OF THE BOOKSELLERS

HOMETHE BOOKSHELVESTHE WHOLE WORLD DICTIONARYLANGUAGE INDEXWORK BY ANDREW DALBYLINKS