From Antiquity to Renaissance

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Paris’s fertile surroundings allowed for the successful cultivation of many fruits from an early date. The Roman emperor Julian’s fourth-century description of the native Parisii tribe records that they were even growing figs by covering the trees to protect them from the harsh winter. Mesnagier de Paris (ca. 1393) provides advice to a Parisian housewife on how to cultivate violets, mint, raspberries, currants, seedless grapes, cherries, and plums. Pears were so ubiquitous that the French word poire could be used as a synonym for dessert. Apples were nearly as prevalent and remain a staple.