Friday, September 07, 2012

Adam's Apple.

[with apologies for the formatting - Blogger wont do as asked today]

I hope you enjoyed the post yesterday on the true identity of the Earth Nut, because I have another little bit of confusion for your puzzle-pleasure today.

As the final snippet (for the time being) from the Dictionaire Å’conomique, or, The Family Dictionary (1725), I give you the entry for ‘Adam’s Apple.’

ADAM’S APPLE: in Latin, Pomum adami, a Fruit but little different from Lemons; for tho’ the Tree that bears them has larger and bigger leaves than those of the Lemon-Tree, yet the Branches are very like: it produces a Flower like that of the Citron-tree, and a Fruit twice or thrice bigger than that of the Orange Tree. It’s round, has a pale rind, nervous and uneven. It is found much in Italy.

Adam’s Apples yield much Juice, and they have a Pulp little different from Lemons: in the mean time they are neither so delicious nor so well tasted. The Juice of these Apples has the same Properties as Lemons, but with less Efficacy: if you cut them into two parts, strew them with Frankincense reduc’d into a fine Powder, and heat them on hot Embers, you may apply them to Scurfs and the Itch, and you will be much relieved thereby.

So, Adam’s Apple is a citrus fruit, not an apple? This particular confusion can probably be explained away by the fact that in times past, ‘apple’ (or ‘pome’) was sometimes used as a generic name for the fruit of any tree.

Before I discuss the fruit itself any further, I want to point out, in case you didn’t already know, that the more prominent larynx in the human male is called the ‘Adam’s Apple’ because it supposedly demonstrates the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden stuck guiltily in Adam’s throat. This explanation will become relevant shortly – trust me.

There have been a number of contenders for the ‘true’ nature of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (which assumes a belief in a ‘real,’ not an allegorical tree,) and we have considered several of these in previous posts. Some of the most popular are the quince, the date, the peach, the pomegranate, and the banana – all more likely for a Middle Eastern Garden of Eden than the temperate-climate apple, methinks, if you are going for reality rather than symbolism. But I digress.

Some admittedly superficial research shows that, as in the case of the earthnut, a number of citrus fruits have been known by the name of Adam’s Apple, including the shaddock or pomelo (Citrus grandis,) the grapefruit (Citrus paradisi,) the citron (Citrus medica, ) the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium,) and the lime (Citrus aurantium var. limetta, or Citrus aurantifolia?.) Citrus history is long, and nomenclature is complicated and dynamic, so I am by no means certain I have gotten these varietal names correct. The point is, however, that I do not know what the author of our source of the week had in mind when he referred to the ‘Adam’s Apple.’ The ‘nervous and uneven’ rind, and the connection with Italy suggested the citron to me, but the author of the week has a separate entry for Citrons, and it does not seem to overlap.

Several sources suggest that is indeed a cultivar of Citrus aurantifolia (Citrus lumia var. pomum adami ?) which is also sometimes called  ‘Adam’s bite’. The fruit has a deep groove at one end – just as if someone (Adam) had sunk his teeth into it. I know I have seen an image of this particular fruit, and it does indeed have a bite-shaped groove at one end of the mature fruit – but now I cant find the picture. Keeping up with five posts a week sometimes (often?) means insufficient research folks, that’s just the way it is.

Just to confuse things further, the banana (Musa paradisiaca) was also sometimes known as Adam’s Apple, but at least the ‘Paradise Apple’ (Malus pumila paradisiaca) is a real, if tiny, apple.

Whatever the citrus you have at hand, I am sure it will make a refreshing beverage. Here are the early eighteenth century instructions from our source of the week.


A Liquor prepar’d in the following Manner: To a Paris Pint of Water put the juice of three Lemons, and seven or eight Slices, but if the Lemons are large, and very juicy, you may need but of two, with a Quarter of a Pound of Sugar, or at  most but five Ounces: when the Sugar is melted, and the whole well incorporated, strain it through a Bag; let it cool and drink it: There are other Ways of preparing Lemonade, but this shall [?] suffice.


Dale said...

In my New Zealand garden are three kinds of grapefruit tree, an ugli fruit, a lemon, a mandarin, a lemonade, and a tree producing very small oranges that we have not yet identified. (Well, it has been identified to me by one gardener as Japanese Mountain Orange but I can not yet trace any such thing.)

The fruit you describe sounds most like an ugli, which is a hybrid that occurs naturally and comes in many different shapes and sizes.

The citrus family hybridise naturally very readily and new variants pop up regularly. I'd put my money on Adam's Apple being a grapefruit/lemon/orange hybrid.Try a Google Image search on ugli fruit and see the variety of shapes on offer.

Another suggestion might be a trifoliate rootstock q.v.

Piet said...

Dale -- Could your tree with the very small oranges be a calamondin? They are relatively frost hardy and the fruit is indeed bright orange and quite small.

Dale said...

Thank you Piet - I have checked this out before and it seems it may be a kissing cousin. Trouble is, citrus hybridise so freely with each other and names are so loosely used.
Do a Google Image search on calamondin or calamansi and you will see everything from pale knobbly limey fruit to smooth dark orange (my ones), with shapes ranging from dented or flattened to kumquat teardrops - mine are smooth and spherical.But nearly all listings mention the sour, mouth-puckering taste of calamondins, whereas mine are small sweet oranges inside, pure and simple.
This is useful:

Sorry to hijack your comments, Dear Foodie, but the loose naming of citrus hybrids is where we started!

The Old Foodie said...

Please keep up yhe comments - i love this sort of discussion!