5 Annotations

First Reading

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Lemons were imported as early as april Novello Compano, A, 4 old gilt girdles, 1 chest soap weight 4½ C. lbs., 1 butt lemons, £5
as well as
1481 Gonsalvus Rodrecus ....10, 000 Oranges 40 doz cork....
60,000 oranges 3rd april.
as well as Cork for slippers.
plus this from Elizabeth I.
"Edward Gilbert, Master of a Hoy of Feverton, in the River of London, which hath in Eight Thousand Oranges and Lemons, and some Spanish Reed, as he doth relate."

From: 'House of Lords Journal Volume 5: 1 August 1642', Journal of the House of Lords: volume 5: 1642-1643 (1802), pp. 250-56. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/…. Date accessed: 15 February 2006.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In 2011 djc educated us about scurvy, lemons, limes and the Navy:

Not limes but lemons were an effective cure for scurvy.

Scurvy had been the leading killer of sailors on long ocean voyages; some ships experienced losses as high as 90% of their men.
With the introduction of lemon juice [in 1799], the British suddenly held a massive strategic advantage over their rivals, one they put to good use in the Napoleonic wars. British ships could now stay out on blockade duty for two years at a time, strangling French ports even as the merchantmen who ferried citrus to the blockading ships continued to die of scurvy, prohibited from touching the curative themselves.
The success of lemon juice was so total that much of Sicily was soon transformed into a lemon orchard for the British fleet.

Scurvy continued to be a vexing problem in other navies, who were slow to adopt citrus as a cure, as well as in the Merchant Marine, but for the Royal Navy it had become a disease of the past.

So when the Admiralty began to replace lemon juice with an ineffective substitute in 1860, it took a long time for anyone to notice.
In that year, naval authorities switched procurement from Mediterranean lemons to West Indian limes. The motives for this were mainly colonial - it was better to buy from British plantations than to continue importing lemons from Europe.

Confusion in naming didn't help matters. Both "lemon" and "lime" were in use as a collective term for citrus, and although European lemons and sour limes are quite different fruits, their Latin names (citrus medica, var. limonica and citrus medica, var. acida) suggested that they were as closely related as green and red apples.
Moreover, as there was a widespread belief that the antiscorbutic properties of lemons were due to their acidity, it made sense that the more acidic Caribbean limes would be even better at fighting the disease.

In this, the Navy was deceived. Tests on animals would later show that fresh lime juice has a quarter of the scurvy-fighting power of fresh lemon juice.

See see https://idlewords.com/2010/03/sco…
and https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"The first written mention of lemonade-like drinks comes from 'On Lemon, Its Drinking and Use', an Arabic treatise written in the 12th century by the physician Ibn Jumayʿ, who wrote down a number of drink recipes that included not only lemon juice, but fruits, herbs, and spices.

"Jumayʿ recommended lemonade for its health benefits, and that reputation followed it into Europe, along with sugar and the lemon itself. The price of its ingredients initially reserved it for the very rich and the very sick. But refreshing lemonade could not be contained to the sickroom for long, and by the 17th century, Paris was filled with wandering lemonade vendors, who sold the drink from elaborate tanks strapped to their backs."

No mention of lemonade making its way across the Channel, but knowing the Stuart Bros. ...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Talking about the Parisian's love of lemons:

How a Parisian Lemonade Craze Fought the Plague -- BY LAURIE L. DOVE

While the plague ravaged Europe in the 17th century, a Parisian fascination with lemonade may have lessened the death toll in France's capital.

In the 17th century, a return of plague killed about 1,000,000 people in France. Oddly enough, the residents of Paris were largely unaffected, despite having the same rat problem as any other large city.

The rodents carried fleas that bore the plague. After the plague killed the rats, the fleas often hopped onto human hosts. In this way, the plague spread like wildfire, snuffing out life after life.

The Parisians' avoidance of the plague could have remained one of history's mysteries, but author Tom Nealon found an explanation from seemingly disparate events. A purveyor of rare books, Nealon is not only an history, but of the impact condiments and foodstuffs may have had on antiquity. His book "Food Fights and Culture Wars" follows the surprising influence food has had through time.

"Health and food were intimately connected for the longest time. Early collections of recipes frequently mixed medical and cookery receipts, so it's easy to start to conflate them when you are studying the period. Even after they started to separate, the Renaissance 'Book of Secrets' kept elements of food and home remedies together for centuries longer."

Paris and its largely unscathed population in the 1660s, and the timing of a lemonade fad and the timing of a plague coincided.

Up until the 1600s, lemons had been a rare and expensive fruit. Although lemon trees had been cultivated throughout Europe and Asia in the preceding decades, the citrus fruit was little-used in England and France because of cost and the idea that eating raw lemons was harmful. Then an increase in trade and a fascination with lemonade popularized the tart fruit in France.

Lemon peels contain limonene, which kills flea larvae and adult fleas.
"During the Renaissance, lemons had been bred and domesticated enough and trade had become organized enough that lemons were sufficiently inexpensive in the mid-17th century to import in bulk," Nealon said.

"Lemonade was all the fashion in a number of cities in Italy at the time, especially Rome, and the fad spread directly from there."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The cookbook "Le Cuisinier François," published in 1651, written by chef François Pierre La Varenne, is considered one of the founding texts of modern French cuisine. It included a recipe that combined lemon juice, water and sugar. This recipe contributed to the popularity of lemonade in France — and with lemonade came lots of lemon peels.
"Lemon peels were in the garbage, in the gutter, in the Seine," says Nealon.

It was this combination of rats and lemon peels that may have stopped the spread of plague. The more people made lemonade and discarded the lemon peels, the more the rats nibbled on the peels, inadvertently ingesting limonene and killing fleas and their eggs.

"The limonene disrupted the spread of fleas from the rats to people. Because the plague kills so quickly, the fleas needed to move from rats to people and back to rats, over and over again, to keep it going as their hosts expired," says Nealon. "Limonene, a flea killer that is still broadly used in pet treatments, killed the fleas and prevented the chain from getting going."

If not for the Parisians' love of lemonade, many more may have died.


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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