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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Lemon the fruit of Citrus limon, a fruit which may, as Harold McGee (2004) notes, be the consequence of a two-step hybrid, first between a citron and a lime (perhaps in NW India), and then between that cross and a pomelo in the Middle East. Evidence for the lemon being known to the Romans (as opposed to the citron) is inconclusive and most modern opinion veers towards ascribing its introduction throughout the Mediterranean to the Arabs from the 7th century AD (Zohary and Hopf, 1993). This is despite Tolkowsky’s (1938) references to frescos found at Pompeii (and therefore prior to AD 70) which show what he regards as indisputably lemons, as well as a mosaic pavement probably from Tusculum (now Frascati) of about 100 AD in which a lemon is shown with an orange and a citron.