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Monday, May 30, 2016

MELÓN WITH 4TH C A.D. RECIPE FOR MELON DRESSING FOR APERITIFS

Faces of Ancient Europe
Photo of Luis Meléndez -
Still Life with Melon and Pears
 L. Cucumis melo, Ar. destbuya or bettīh, Fr. melon, Eng. melon. It is a native of Jordan, which was imported to other countries under Roman domination. In Spain, Arabs introduced or reintroduced it from Egypt around 825 and it was first cultivated under Arab domain in Añover del Tajo, an al-Andalus town, no longer existing, named for a village near Rome.

It became a symbol in Muslim Spain for the excellent crops produced there in the Middle Ages. There it is planted between the beginning of April and the middle of May. Melons are ripe between mid-August and September. Over the same period melon was frequently eaten in León. During the 10th C it was served at the end of the meal with other fruits in season. The pulp was eaten for its refreshing sweetness. Melon has been eaten for breakfast, served as a dessert and consumed as an aperitif since Roman times.

Villena instructs to slice it lengthwise and remove the pits. He says it can be cut horizontally into rounds but it is better lengthwise. It has been said that Holy Roman Emperors Albert, Frederick III and Henry IV of Germany and Pope Paul II died as result of eating too much melon.

Avenzoar explains that the melon may experience a noxious transformation generating a humor similar to poison if when eaten this occurs. Because the melon has no astringent power to protect it, it accelerates the process of the noxious alteration. Even eating it with bread after a copious meal the alteration cannot be avoided. The meal in the stomach prevents the melon from leaving it. The chances of this happening are less than one in 1,000.


Chunks of Cold Melon
Tasty Any Time of Day
Photo by: Lord-Williams
If melon is eaten for breakfast it purifies and refreshes the organism if nothing else is consumed. It is expulsed through urination and bowel movements with part of the prejudicial humor. Melon, therefore, by cleaning the body balances it.

Medicinally, melon dissolves gall and kidney stones when the peel and seeds are drunk as an infusion. When smelled, it reanimates one suffering from fainting spells. By cleaning the body with the pulp, it is left refreshed and hydrated. It also alleviates heat exhaustion. Luis Lobera de Avila, court physician of Charles V of Hapsburg wrote in his medical manual of 1530 that melon seeds are humid and were used to reduce fever and to expel kidney stones.

[Bolens. 1990:34; ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 74; ES: Chu. Oct 13, 02; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:86-88; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:161 and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:42b]

LONG AND ROUND MELONS ADAPTED FROM FLOWER’S TRANSLATION OF APICIUS' III:VII. PEPONES ET MELONES, pp 78-79

A Perfect Appetizer
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Dressing:
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp mint leaves
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp fish bouillon cube or a pinch of salt
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 melon

Preparation

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate overnight.


Open the melon. Remove the seeds. Cut it into ½” cubes and pour the sauce over the melon and serve.

APICIUS' III:


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