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Goods from Spain & France 



The origins of saffron:

Saffron is named from the Arabic za'fran.  It comes from the stamens of the Crocus Sativus. This  flower grows in many places, from Italy to Kurdistan, having been spread by eastern winds across Asia Minor into Spain.

A long voyage...

In the Middle Ages, saffron travelled across North Africa, along the Arab trade routes into Spain. Medieval Spain quickly became the center of  saffron production in Europe. Later, as the Middle Ages continued both France and England began to produce saffron, where their climates were satisfactory.


The origins of the Spanish barb horse.

The unusual history of this breed began in North Africa, the home of the Berbers. The long occupation of Spain by these invading warrior horsemen brought about the creation of a superior horse.

The agile desert breed  of African Barb horse was crossed with existing Spanish stock resulting in a horse that became world famous by the Middle Ages and was much sought after by the Royal Stud farms of Europe. By the year 1492, the Spanish had  regained possession of their country with the  Conquistadors.

By royal edict, horses were transported to the New World and breeding farms established. Upon the backs of these horses, Spain determined to widen the scope of its power and wealth.

Olive Oil in The Middle Ages

In  the Middle Ages olive oil was very useful. France made many products from olive oil that were used in England. It was from Provence that olive oil came.  The French made soap called ‘ Savon de Marseilles’ to wash clothes and themselves. There was a ritual too. Women before making a baby took a bath in olive oil and laurel leaves. It made them confident for having a good, beautiful baby. Olive oil was used in cooking too. Many banquets’ dishes were cooked with olive oil because it was very good for the health. Olive oil was very important too in the Middle Ages because it was a period of Christianity and the olive tree  in this religion was the symbol of the end of the downpour or flood.


Salt came from the île de Ré  and Brittany.  Salt was one of the most expensive products. Salt was very important for cooking and preserving meats. Salt even came in different levels of quality; fine white salt for the table and gray salt from evaporated salt water for  preserving meats. Preserving meats consumed large quantities of salt and as such only valuable meats would be preserved;  not all meats were 'worth their salt.'

Just a little parenthesis...

The word corn originally meant any small grain of something, such as salt, so corned beef was coated in small grains of salt.


"Le cheval à travers les âges." Hachette
"Le Moyen-Age expliquer aux enfants." Nathan

"Dictionnaire Le petit Larousse 2001"

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