What connects Stalin, the USA, the mafia, lemons and bananas: Fruits and their role in history
You never know when and how a seemingly trifle will affect the politics or economies of countries. Here, for example, fruit. With Rodari, they generally do politics personally, with the help of the revolution, but in real history, politics takes place, rather, around them. Fortunately, only occasionally. Not very nice to depend on fruits.
Lemons, Mafia and Stalin
Lemons were not a very popular fruit for a very long time. They were added a little to baking and made lemonade from them, but in general, these fruits were not very valued until it was proved that lemons in the diet of sailors prevent the development of scurvy. Since trade was very much tied to maritime routes, the demand for lemons skyrocketed.
As a result, on the island of Sicily, for example, there was a real boom and lemons became one of the main income items of local farmers. This led to unexpected consequences. Firstly, lemon gardens spread over many hectares were easy to rob, and rob rob systematically: thieves did not earn much less than honest gardeners. Secondly, where money revolves, offers to share appear. At least in exchange for protection from thieves and other lovers, ask to share. So in Sicily, the mafia was born, which later began to take control and much less legitimate types of business. This happened at the end of the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth the mafia’s hands reached the United States.
And lemons in the USSR, according to legend, began to grow like that. Once, Stalin invited Mgeladze, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia, to his country house and began to walk along the paths with him, having a conversation. Every few minutes, Stalin suggested that Mgeladze eat lemon, boasting that, despite the fact that lemons grow only abroad, he, Stalin, grew these lemons in his greenhouse. When the mouth was already sour from the treats, Mgeladze understood the hint and vowed that the lemons would grow in the USSR soon, not only in Comrade Stalin’s greenhouse. Soon they began to grow in Georgia.
And lemons became a popular component of marmalades, sweets and pastries because of the overproduction of lemons: when sailors stopped buying them in tons, manufacturers realized that they could be offered to another market. According to one legend around lemons, they even paid women’s magazines for recipes for sweets or meat using these citrus fruits.
In a similar way, later producers of oranges arrived in the USA. This sunny fruit was already popular for breakfast – it was eaten for dessert with a special spoon, but only half of the orange was eaten at a time. In order for Americans to consume more oranges, manufacturers launched the myth that juice from them is extremely useful and strengthens the immune system. Under the influence of this myth, even peditra began to recommend infants with orange juice from four months old. In addition, producers of oranges claimed that cereals drenched in juice are much more useful than those drenched in milk: battles are still going on on this subject.
Now, when a banana is considered a fairly popular fruit in order to bring it with a child to school, and when many bananas have breakfast, it is hard to imagine that a hundred years ago in Russia bananas were not understood and did not like. Now they are also not considered the main fruits in the diet, but they are still sold, and successfully, in every supermarket.
The situation changed because of Stalin: he once had a chance to try a ripe banana. He tried not alone, but with his comrades-in-arms, and they just did not come to the delight: starchy, the taste is not the brightest. The same grapes, for example, are tastier. But since Stalin liked it, they began to buy bananas in Europe (expensively!) And sell them in some stores of large Soviet cities (also not cheaply). Mikoyan did not understand why to spend state money on the purchase of these strange fruits, but did not dare to argue.
Once, unknowingly, Stalin was served a bunch of green bananas on the table – the cook clearly had no idea that they can (and even need) to be ripened in a warm dark place. They tasted like potatoes. Stalin became angry. With little understanding of bananas, he decided that the Minister of Foreign Trade, by stupidity or in order to keep part of the money for himself, bought low-quality bananas in Europe. The scandal lasted several days. The Minister was saved by the fact that Beria and Mikoyan quickly removed him from his post and exiled him out of sight of the leader.
A little later, the USSR began to take bananas from the Chinese, Vietnamese and Africans as a fee for military and agricultural equipment. Many people born in the USSR are sure that the term “banana republic” came from here, which means a country that is completely dependent on the cultivation and sale of tropical fruits.