Sunday, July 28, 2019

Ancient ecological history: rabbits to Britain

From Britain's History Today, a remarkable essay on the changes wrought to Britain's flora and fauna by the incursion of the Romans.
To the occupying Romans, Britain’s food left much to be desired.... The Romans set about expanding the cuisine to suit their tastes, introducing at least 50 new species of plant foods, most originating in the Mediterranean Basin. These included fruits, such as peach, pear, fig, mulberry, sour cherry, plum, damson, date and pomegranate, along with almond, pine nut, sweet chestnut and walnut. They brought vegetables, from cultivated leek and lettuce, to cucumber, rape and possibly turnip, and new varieties of cabbage, carrot, parsnip and asparagus, in addition to the varieties which already grew wild in Britain. Black pepper, coriander, dill, parsley, anise and black cumin brought new seasonings and the oil-rich seeds sesame, hemp and black mustard were also among the arrivals.
Do you get the impression that everything good about Britain comes from the Continent -- and always has?
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