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Next comes the gourd. But as gourds were served round to us in the winter season, every one marvelled, thinking that they were fresh gourds; and we recollected what the beautiful Aristophanes said in his Seasons, praising the glorious Athens in these lines:—
A. There you shall at mid-winter see
Cucumbers, gourds, and grapes, and apples,
And wreaths of fragrant violets
Cover'd with dust, as if in summer.
And the same man will sell you thrushes,
And pears, and honey-comb, and olives,
Beestings, and tripe, and summer swallows,
And grasshoppers, and bullock's paunches.
There you may see full baskets packed
With figs and myrtle, crown'd with snow;
There you may see fine pumpkins join'd
To the round rape and mighty turnip;
So that a stranger well may fear
To name the season of the year.
B. That's a fine thing if all the year
A man can have whate'er he pleases.
A. Say rather, it's the worst of evils;
For if the case were different,
Men would not cherish foolish fancies
Nor rush into insane expenses.
But after some short breathing time
I might myself bear off these things;
As indeed in other cities,
Athens excepted, oft I do:
However, as I tell you now,
The Athenians have all these things.
Because, as we may well believe,
They pay due honour to the gods.
B. 'Tis well for them they honour you,
Which brings them this enjoyment, since
You seek to make their city Egypt,
Instead of the immortal Athens.
At all events, we were astonished eating cucumbers in the month of January; for they were green, and full of their own Peculiar flavour, and they happened to have been dressed by [p. 587] cooks who above all men knew how to dress and season such things. Laurentius, therefore, asked whether the ancients were acquainted with this vegetable, or with this way of dressing it. And Ulpian said—Nicander the Colophonian, in the second book of his Georgics, mentions this way of dressing the vegetable, calling the gourds not κολόκυνται, but σίκυαι; for, indeed, that was one of their names, as we have said before. And his words are:—
First cut the gourds in slices, and then run
Threads through their breadth, and dry them in the air;
Then smoke them hanging them above the fire;
So that the slaves may in the winter season
Take a large dish and fill it with the slices,
And feast on them on holidays: meanwhile
Let the cook add all sorts of vegetables,
And throw them seed and all into the dish;
Let them take strings of gherkins fairly wash'd,
And mushrooms, and all sorts of herbs in bunches,
And curly cabbages, and add them too.

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