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Melon from Cavaillon and little anecdotal stories about a vegetable

Cavaillon melon | jean-louis Zimmermann / CC-BY

The little history

With vinegar

Melon comes from South Africa or India: the Romans already knew it and ate it as a vegetable, with vinegar and garum, a very strong sauce made with dry fishes.

At that time, melon wasn’t sweet at all! Later, he would become a real fruit...

Popes in Vaucluse

They cultivated the cantaloup melon near Rome in Italy, in Cantalupo, especially for popes.

When they moved in Avignon, popes brought the fruit with them in order to farm it in Cavaillon!

By the way, the story says pope Paul II died of an apoplexy, in 1471: he ate too much melons...

The melon became acclimatized to Cavaillon. Books started to talk about them: Jacques Pons published Sommaire traité des melons at the end of the 16th century and Olivier de Serres talked about them in 1600 in his Théâtre d'Agriculture.

The pompons!

This "fruit-vegetable" appeared on French tables in the Middle Ages.

The tradition says king Charles VIII brought it back from his Italian conquest in 1495.

Melons were called pompons or popons, from the Latin word pepo.

Kings adored melons

I told you kings and princes were fond of melons.

King Henri IV had a pretty big indigestion with melons, a royal trouble mentioned by chronicler L’Estoile:

"In August 1607, king of France fell sick because of a melon. A doctor from Sorbonne school instituted legal proceedings against this fruit, because it made the king sick."

Louis XIV loved melons, so did Louis XV! This one had plenty in the greenhouses of his Choisy-le-Roi castle near Paris, chosen by his gardener, Jacques Gondouin.

Southern France and Anjou

Melon culture started to spread all other Southern France: in the 16th century, Bruyerin-Champier talked about Narbonne’s sugared melons, then on the next century, melons from Touraine were the best, especially from Langeais.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!