Orange | Portakal
The ancient ancestors of oranges are believed to have originated in China where they were cultivated as early as 2,500 BC. Sometime prior to 314 BC, pomelo and mandarin were crossbred to yield two new fruits: the bitter orange and the sweet orange. With the rise of the Roman Empire and later Ottoman Empire, these new fruits spread from China and India westward along the Silk Road. In the first century BC, Romans brought sweet orange trees to ancient Port of Ostia near what now the modern city of Rome. However, with the collapse of the Roman Empire in 500 BC, the cultivation of oranges also collapsed.
Historians believe Arab traders reintroduced bitter oranges to Middle East where they became known as Persian Oranges. This bitter variety was used to flavor rice and make perfumes. In the eighth and ninth century, Muslim Moors brought oranges to Spain. By the twelfth century orange orchards had been established in Granada and Seville. In the 15th century, Portuguese traders brought sweet oranges to Turkey’s Mediterranean region. The Portuguese Seville was then cross bred with the Turkish Turunç to yield what is now called portakal.
Today, Turkey is the seventh leading producer of oranges worldwide.
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