Since Ancient times, there was always communication between the east and the west, especially after the expansive wars of Alexander the Great.
After the commander’s trips to Asia came the first vegetables and fruits to Greece. It is said that the first fruit to arrive from there was the citrus fruit which quickly spread all around Greece and then to Rome.
There is of course the incredible myth where the King of Tiryns (a place in the Peloponnese) made Hercules go and get the golden apples of the Hesperides as one of his labors.
I can’t really understand what was up with Hercules and he travelled all around Greece and the underworld for 12 years in order to accomplish all of his 12 labors.. but on the other hand he did kill his whole family and obviously that’s what he was paying for. So I guess it was better for him to be on the go, chasing the Erymanthian Boar than others chasing him…
Try to find all of his 12 labors with your friends! If you can do it good for you! And just a little bit of help, the snakes were not one of his labors…
But let’s get back to our subject, or rather, our myth. In the land of Atlas which was in Southern Africa… and this is also how the mountain got its name as well as the ocean…. there was the garden that grew these wondrous golden apples.
They were guarded by the 100 headed dragon Ladon and the Hesperides who were nymphs and the daughters of Atlas. I don’t want to go into the whole myth but Hercules succeeds in stealing the apples and takes them back to the King.
You can find out more about Atlas here. It is a fascinating story!
These first fruits from the Hesperides were called golden apples and were in reality oranges. A fruit that was unknown at the time. They were the first citrus fruits to ever come to Greece… so the myth says.
The citrus tree made its appearance in ancient times. Oranges came later, in the second century from the Portuguese merchants.
Mandarins came from the Mandarin Chinese officials and got their name from them. There are also clementines, a variety of mandarins that got their name from the monk Clement Rondier who found the clementine in Algeria. They are sometimes called mandarins and sometimes tangerines. Tangerines were a smaller variety of mandarins from Tangier and the name remained for all mandarins.
The lemon tree is basically a citrus and mandarin hybrid. Its cultivation probably began in India and spread throughout the world.
Of course there are so many types of citrus fruit. Apart from the ones named above, there are so many others. The well-known ones like grapefruits and limes all the way to the exotic ones like the kumquat, the Buddha’s hand or fingered citron…
In another diary I will explore the nutritional value of these fruits and also take a deeper look at the lesser known citrus fruit.
For now, I’d like to share some great recipes with fruit that I love!