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197 × 120 × 15 mm
152 pages
60 illustrations, 43 in colour
01 Apr 2016

Melon A Global History Sylvia Lovegren

Perfumed, sweet, succulent, cooling, a ripe melon can be one of the most delicious of fruits. Melon follows the journeys of the varied fruits known as melons from the sandy wastes of the Kalahari Desert, to the ancient kingdom of Ur in Mesopotamia, to the exotic oases of the Silk Road, and on to Jesuit outposts in Canada, slave plantations in Brazil, Pueblo Indian gardens in the American southwest, and to the farmers in Japan who produce luscious and expensive square melons grown in glass boxes.

While melons are appreciated as a healthy food today, in the past they were often feared as a deadly but alluring menace. Sylvia Lovegren explores the reasons for the varied reactions to melons across the globe and explains the surprising ancient and medieval medical origins of popular melon recipes. The fascinating story is rounded out with the folk tales, humorous stories and cultural artefacts that have grown up around the fruit, as well as the attempts by scientists and growers to preserve or even genetically revive ancient melon strains while improving the modern melons that come to the market and our tables.

Richly illustrated and illuminated with both ancient and modern recipes, Melon is a delightful look at the surprising history of one of the world’s most complex and delicious fruits.

Sylvia Lovegren is a freelance writer and cookbook collector. She is the author of Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (2005) and contributed numerous articles to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004).


1. Getting to Know Melons

2. Melons in Prehistory and the Ancient World

3. The Melon in the Classical Period

4. Melons in Late Antiquity and the Medieval Period

5. Melons on the Silk Road

6. The Melon in the Renaissance and into the Modern Era

7. Melons in the New World

8. The Deadly Melon

9. Folk Tales and Humorous Stories

10. Festivals, Contests and Folk Art

11. Modern and Future Melons

Appendix I: Picking the Perfect Melon in the Garden and the Market

Appendix II: Ode to the Watermelon


Select Bibliography


Photo Acknowledgements