History of Peaches
November 2016 - China was the first home of peaches. Peaches are related to almonds and apples, but apples and almonds grew further west, and peaches grew further east. People in southern China have been eating peaches since at least 1000 BC, and probably as early as 4000 BC. Many Chinese stories about peaches think of peaches as a symbol of long life.
The formation of the Persian Empire and then the Silk Road brought peaches further west. People living in the Persian Empire and probably India enjoyed peaches about 500 BC, and then by about 100 BC people in the Roman Empire were eating peaches too, and under Roman rule peaches were grown as far west as North Africa and Spain, and even as far north as England.
Peaches probably reached East Africa about the same time as bananas and coconut, about 800 AD, when Indonesian Muslim traders began to reach Madagascar, and they probably spread through Africa along with the new Islamic religion.
When Portuguese soldiers conquered South America from the Aztecs and Inca in the 1500s AD, they brought peaches with them, and people began to grow peaches in South America, too. In the 1600s, Spanish settlers also brought peaches to Florida, where the Cherokee and Iroquois soon learned to grow them. Cherokee and Iroquois traders sold peach seeds further west, and peach seeds gradually crossed North America to meet up with peach trees planted by Spanish settlers in Arizona and California.
Bibliography and further reading about peaches:
Food, by Fiona MacDonald and others (2001). For kids, facts about food from all over the world. A little preachy.
Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, by Don and Patricia Brothwell (1998). Pretty specialized, but the book tells you where foods came from, and how they got to other places, and what people ate in antiquity. Not just Europe, either!
Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, by Jean Louis Flandrin, Massimo Montanari, Albert Sonnenfeld. (1996). Hard going because it is translated from French, but Flandrin was one of the world's great food historians.