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Pliny on carob.

Pliny is speaking of different kinds of fruit, their coverings, and the best parts of them (Naturalis Historia 15.34):

In siliquis vero quod manditur quid nisi lignum est? non omittenda seminis earum proprietate: nam neque corpus nec lignum nec cartilago dici potest neque aliud nomen inveniat.

In carob, indeed, what is eaten, except for the woody part? There is a distinctive property of its seed that should not go unmentioned, for it can neither be called fleshy nor woody nor gristly, nor may any other name be found.

Something about me: I saw neque aliud nomen inveniat and I saw a challenge. I know nothing about carob, the consistency of its fruit, or the customary English vocabulary relating to same, but I thought, There oughtta be a word.

Before even beginning to hunt for such a thing, I ran into trouble with the word lignum, usually ‘wood.’ Carob wood is not eaten; the term refers also to the harder, non-fleshy parts of fruit in general, whether shell or pit or whatever. For some reason, we have no corresponding term in English.

Likewise, corpus ‘body,’ lignum, and cartilago ‘cartilage’ are none of them terms very much associated with fruit in our language. They seem to work better converted to adjectives. I must admit, though, that I have no idea what the texture of gristle is.

Anyway, I did a couple of hours googling and couldn’t find very much in the way of description of what makes the texture of carob seeds so unnameable. Wikipedia fails to describe them altogether, outside of the ubiquitous factoid about them being the basis of the carat.

[From proprietas.]

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