This article, by examining the genetic, iconographical, historical, and linguistic evidence, supports the argument that the cultivated artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus (L.) Fiori) developed from the cardoon (C. cardunculus L. var. altilis DC) and that the artichoke was unknown in the Greco-Roman world and was most probably developed by Arab or Arab-Sicilian horticulturalists in the early medieval period——that is, between the seventh and tenth centuries A.D., probably in Sicily. The article considers genetic variability and the relationships between cultivars and wild taxa, as well as the problem of synonymy, the fact that a plant can take different names according to where it is cultivated. The article examines both classical Latin and medieval Arab and European writers who wrote about artichokes or cardoons and explores the linguistic problems associated with those plants' Arabic or Persian names.
Did the Ancients Know the Artichoke?
clifford a. wright won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year and Beard Award for Best Writing on Food in 2000 for A Mediterranean Feast. The author of fourteen books, he wrote the food entries for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and lectures on food history at institutions such as the Center for European Studies, Harvard University and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University. You can visit him at www.cliffordawright.com.
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clifford a. wright; Did the Ancients Know the Artichoke?. Gastronomica 1 November 2009; 9 (4): 21–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.4.21
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