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Friday, April 27, 2018


Photo from: Becky Smeitzer
OCast badeha, Cat albudeca, Ar. al-buttáikha (dim of battíkha), watermelon in the Middle East, melon in North Africa), L. Citrullus vulgaris, Ar. sandiaor baithasindiya (from Sinnd), Fr. pastèque, Eng. watermelon. Watermelon is believed to be a native of Sind (now a province of Pakistain). By Biblical times, it was common in the Middle East as Isralites ate it in Egypt as a vegetable (Num. 11:15). 

As it was one of the most consumed fruits of medieval Arabs it was brought to Spain from Persia or Yemen. It is first mentioned in Rabbi Ben Zaid’s 13thC Latin version of the Calendar of Cordova, in which he mentioned that it was an August fruit. 

It is referred to as a vegetable in the Archpriest of Hita. Probably, this is because eating raw fruit was frowned upon in the Middle Ages. It was drunk as a refreshing juice. The Anón al-Andalus uses the seeds in his hyssop syrup recipe. Villena says nothing about cooking it and instructs that it should be cut lengthwise like melon. Avenzoar explains that it is colder and more humid than a cucumber; its nature is extremely heavy and the amount of yellow bile in it is so slight that if there is any in the stomach, it fights it. He recommends this to alleviate high fevers suffered by youths.[Anón/Huici.1966:505:275-276; Bolen. Cuisine. 1990:34; ES: Harper. May 15, 98; Gázquez. 2002:28; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:88; Villena/Calero. 2002:42b; and Villena/Saínz. 1969:162]

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