Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian EmpireMain MenuAboutDashboardsData CatalogMapStoriesGalleriesGamesWho said history was boring?Map ShelfTeach Our ContentCiting the ProjectKelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f5The Imperiia Project // Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
12021-02-03T12:23:22-05:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f597Guidebook noteplain2021-02-03T16:08:27-05:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f5Better known to speakers of modern English as pumpkins. (Given that melons and pumpkins are both members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae, this isn't quite as strange as it might sound.)
Melons, but not pompions, have been cultivated in and around Astrakhan and sold in huge quantities along the Volga for centuries. Embed from Getty Images
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12021-02-03T10:04:52-05:00He is known for far more important things, but...13Guidebook noteplain2021-02-03T15:52:02-05:00...if you are looking for a way to remember Adam Olearius, just think of him as the man who wrote of "melons of extraordinary bigness."
Why would you do such a thing?
Olearius went ashore at Kazan for provisions in August 1636 and had this to say:
We could meet with nothing but Fruits, among others, particularly Melons, full as big as our Pompions, and Salt-fish, but such as stunk so that we were forc'd to stop our noses, to shun the infection.
The extraordinary bigness of the melons was deemed remarkable enough that it merited mention in the Table of Contents of the 1662 edition, wedged between a summary of Ivan IV's conquest of Kazan and notes on the course of the Volga below the once-great city.