Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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dogwood a small tree or shrub of which varieties grow in Europe, N. Asia, and N. America, bearing small, round, cherry-like fruits which are eaten in some countries.

The best fruit of any Old World species is that of Cornus mas, commonly called cornel or cornelian cherry. It is bright red and may be as large as a small plum. The flavour is acid and slightly bitter. The fruit was formerly used in W. Europe to make pies, sauces, and confectionery, or pickled as a substitute for olives.

It is perhaps in Turkey that the fruits are most prominent. Evelyn Kalças (1974) writes:

It is to be found in late summer piled on huge trays in Turkish markets and fruit shops. Though not considered very tasty by most westerners, I have found the tartness quite tasty, and the jelly or jam made from it is flavorsome. A number of the whole fruit taken from the jam can be added to any fruit salad as an attractive and tasty contrast. There is a fascinating Turkish legend about this fruit. It seems that when Seytan—the Devil—first saw the Kizilcik tree covered with blossoms when no other fruit showed even a bud, he said to himself: ‘Aha! This tree will produce fruit first of all. I must be first there to secure it.’ So he gathered up his scales and basket and took up his position under the tree. He waited and waited, but all other fruit trees came into bloom and fruit formed on them. Still the Kizilcik fruit was not ready and ripe for eating. Seytan was patient, but he wondered what had happened. Then to his great surprise he discovered that this was one of the very last fruits to ripen at the end of summer, so his chagrin was great. Ever since then the Turks have called the tree:—‘Seytan alditan agaci’—the tree that deceived Satan.