July 16, 1957

BLACKCURRANTS: (From «An Athenian’s Notes»): Blackcurrants have reappeared on the Athens market, a product that has always been a source of wealth but also trouble for the western Peloponnese and of political troubles for the whole of Greece. The blackcurrant was known in antiquity (examples from Pompeii can be seen in the Museum of Naples), but its recent history dates from the 13th century, when the Peloponnese began exporting the crop to Britain and the Netherlands. Since then, the crop has been of great economic importance. The Venetians protected its cultivation – I believe that even today the unit for weighing currants is the Venetian pound, the equivalent of 480 grams or 160 drams – just as they protected the cultivation of the olive. Corinthian currants are grown along the coast of the western Peloponnese on a narrow strip of land 400 kilometers long and about 1,000 meters wide. Rarely does one find fields of these crops far from the coasts or at altitudes higher than 100 meters above sea level, apart from a few leeward hillsides, a sight to behold from the railway line to Pirgos. This is now the season when the people who water the fields with their sweat wait to see the fruit of their labors.