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in their gardens; but they are rather afraid of it when in blossom, as they say that its fragrance has a strong power upon the feelings.
F. Pray, sir, what does it smell like?
U. O. It is difficult to compare smells exactly; but I think it reminded me of that sweet and mellow odour which one perceives in entering a store-room where ripe fruit is kept.
The fruits of Persia are not excelled by any in the world. The Persians have many fruits that we have not, and we have some that they want. In general, our common and most perfect fruits are either not at all to be had in that country, or are among the worst that it possesses. Thus they have no strawberries, raspberries, or gooseberries, and their apples are not comparable to ours. But, on the other hand, no country produces better pomegranates, mulberries, almonds, peaches, and apricots, all of 'which grow wild in the country, and for which it is said that Europe is indebted to Persia. Oranges and lemons are also natives of the country: they grow to a very large size; but I think they are not so good to the taste as those which we get from St. Michael's, Portugal, and Malta.
Their mulberries enable them to rear a vast number of silk-worms, and, consequently, to obtain a large quantity of the silk which they spin.
H. How much silk do the worms spin in Persia every year?
U. O. I am not certain; but I have been told about 20,000 bales, each of which contains 206lbs. A good deal of it is sold to the Russians, and some comes to England.
Vines are very abundant in Persia, and produce most excellent grapes, which are among the cheapest fruits in the country, and vast quantities are eaten by all classes of people. In England, you know, apples are more commonly eaten than any other fruit; and grapes are more commonly eaten by the Persians than apples are by us. In so large a country, there is, of course, some difference in the quality of the grapes. The vines of Casvin, Ispahan, Shiraz, and Yezd have each their peculiar excellence. I think there can be no better grapes than those of Casvin, where the vine is very extensively cultivated. It is remarkable that, as water is very scarce in that neighbourhood, the vine-dressers only water the vines once a year. This is in April; and the soil, which is clayey, is so good, that it retains sufficient moisture to serve during the summer, after which the rains come on. The vineyards are laid out in long mounds of earth; the vines are not trained up walls or over sticks, as with us, but grow on these mounds as standard-bushes, like our currant or gooseberry bushes. When, however, the vineyards and orchards are enclosed by high walls, as is generally the case near large towns, the vine-dressers like to make some vines run up the wall and curl over on the other side. They effect this by tying a stone to the extremity of the tendril, and this stone, being suspended on the outside, keeps over the wall the ends of the vine.
F. Do they make wine with the grapes, as we do ?
U. O. We don't. All our grape wine comes from abroad. The Persians do make some wine ; but not much, considering how the country abounds in vines. The reason of this I shall have to tell you on some other evening.
Melons I have already mentioned. Cucumbers are very common-more so than with us. The Persians do not slice them up with vinegar and pepper as we do, but are content to dip the end in some salt, and then bite off a great mouthful. Onions are also common, and are highly relished by the common people. I have seen a poor man sit watching for an hour until our cook threw away the offal of the onions, , among which he would search in the hope of finding some that were rejected, or some bits of good onion with the skin. Their other table vegetables are different from ours. I do not remember to have observed cabbages, turnips, carrots, or peas. But they have most of the other sorts of our kitchen vegetables, besides many of their own.
H. Have they any potatoes ?
U. O. Yes, but they are a costly rarity at present-not at all in common use. This vegetable was introduced by Sir John Malcolm, who in his different works speaks with much pride of having done this service to Persia, and considers that it will be numbered among his best claims to be remembered. He was gratified to find that the people called it “ Malcolm's plum ;" but they seem already to have given up this name, for I never heard them call it by any other than “ ground-apple,” which agrees exactly with the French name for it. The Persians themselves like potatoes well enough; but at present they
are only reared by them in small quantities, chiefly with a view to their being sold to the Europeans at Bushire, Tabreez, and Teheran. Some potatoes, brought from Persia, have lately been planted at Bagdad in Eastern Turkey. If they are properly attended to, they will doubtless succeed very well in that fertile soil and excellent climate.
H. I suppose potatoes will in time become very common in those parts ?
U. O. Very possibly. The Persians, however, are unwilling to admit the excellence of any vegetable which their own country does not naturally produce. Beet-root seems to stand in the place of turnip to the Persians; and they have asparagus, lettuce, and celery. Water-cresses are very common; but the people do not know that they are fit to eat. The natives with whom I sometimes travelled used to appear surprised when they saw my man gather cresses from the brooks and set them before me.
They have a sort of sour gourd, the name of which I have forgotten. It is almost of an egg shape, and is larger than the egg of a goose. It is covered with a thick and smooth purple skin. They take out the middle of this gourd, fill it