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HISTORY OF GOJI


With this fruit we need to start with the name. Lyceum Barbarum or Wolfberry is also known by a colloquialized version of the Chinese word Go Qi Zi. Go Qi Zi pronounced Go Chi Ze has been shortened for easier pronunciation in the west to Go Chi and then to Goji. We first notice reference to the Goji berry during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.) under Emperor Taizhong. This period of time was a successful and progressive chapter in Chinese history. Emperor Taizhong had an exemplary relationship with his ministers and instituted a system of state schools. The Tang Dynasty was an era of political, cultural and economic success. It was during this time that the western borders of China were expanded into Central Asia. China was becoming the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. Chinese Emperors ruled. Chinese imperial food dates back to slave society. Ever since there were emperors and palaces, there has been imperial food, which was served mainly to the emperors, their wives and concubines, and the royal families. Emperors used their power to collect the best delicacies and called upon the best cooks to make delicious food for them. Imperial food represented a dynasty’s best cuisine.

Although imperial food was made exclusively for the royal family, generals, ministers, and nobility, it was the peasants, herders, and fishermen who provided the raw materials, craftsmen who made the kitchen utensils, the cooking staff who provided the service, civil officials who named the dishes and protocol officials who drafted the dietary and culinary rules. Imperial food comprised the dietetic culture of the Chinese palaces and it is part of China’s valuable cultural heritage. Imperial foods often were improved dishes invented by the common people. The inventors were not princes, dukes, or ministers, but cooks and commoners. The original model for a dish might have been similar to a dish you once prepared for yourself.

The expansive and progressive nature of the Tang Dynasty into the regions where Goji is grown coupled with peasant cooks’ knowledge of area fruits and vegetables inevitably landed this red-orange berry into the emperors diet. Goji plants have been cultivated in England since they were introduced as a tea tree in about 1730 by the third Duke of Argyll. They are common as hedges and are still a favorite with most of England`s birds.