Once upon a time... there was the plum
Growing wild in America and Asia, plum trees were first grown by the Etruscans (in what is now Tuscany). The Romans and Egyptians liked this small, tasty fruit, which they also dried.
In the 12th century, Crusaders returning from an unsuccessful expedition to Damascus brought back some plum tree plants, which attracted the gibe: “all that way just for some plums!” Hence the well-known French expression…
Plums were very popular during the Renaissance. Reine-Claude greengages were named as a tribute to the wife of François I, Claude de France, the daughter of Anne of Brittany, who loved them.
Today there are around 2,000 varieties worldwide. France is the world’s 4th biggest producer. The market is concentrated around ten varieties that are usually classified by colour: green, yellow, blue or red.