Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The vegetable lamb of Tartary

One of Sir John Mandeville's sources was Odoric of Pordenone who lived from 1286-1331. He was a Franciscan monk who became a missionary in the East and visited China in 1323-8. Odoric relates a tale of a melon grown in Tartary which, when opened, contained a small lamb. Mandeville tells a similar story about Korea: "There grows a kind of fruit as big as gourds, and when ripe, men open it and find inside an animal of flesh and blood and bone, like a little lamb without wool. And the people of that land eat the animal, and the fruit too. It is a great marvel. Nevertheless I said to them that it did not seem a very great marvel to me, for in my country, I said, there were trees which bore a fruit that became birds that could fly; men call them barnacle geese and there is good meat on them." This is an old legend cited by Giraldus Cambrensis and Vincent of Beauvais which said that the geese grew from the stalked barnacle (lepas anatifera) which has some slight resemblance in shape and markings to a miniature barnacle goose.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Ellee said...

I marvel at how how missionaries manged to travel such distances in those old days. It sounds from the descriptions they gave, that they were hallucinating on some forbidden fruit, but what wonderful visions they conjure up.

12:51 pm  
Blogger kinglear said...

Maybe that's where Navarin comes from (at least there's lots of vegetables with it)

1:01 pm  
Blogger Mopsa said...

How on earth do you know these fascinating things? And Odoric of Pordenone is an utterly brilliant name - you couldn't make it up.

8:23 pm  
Blogger Eurodog said...

I always assumed the word navarin came from Navarre, area in Northern Spain. Not so. I looked it up and Navarin is a place in Greece. There was a battle in 1827 and to celebrate the French victory over the Ottoman fleet( with the help of the English and Russian fleets but we don't mention them )this dish was invented.
A rather fancy name for a very simple and easy dish. All it is, is lamb and carrots. Enfin, en gros...

11:24 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

What a wonderful idea!

7:58 pm  

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