Food and Foodways of Medieval Cairenes: Aspects of Life in an Islamic Metropolis of the Eastern Mediterranean

FOOD AND FOODWAYS OF MEDIEVAL CAIRENES
  • Book Title:
 Food And Foodways Of Medieval Cairenes
  • Book Author:
Paulina B. Lewicka
  • Total Pages
649
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FOOD AND FOODWAYS OF MEDIEVAL CAIRENES – Book Sample

CONTENTS – FOOD AND FOODWAYS OF MEDIEVAL CAIRENES

  • Preface …….ix
  • Acknowledgments ……xv
  • Abbreviations …….xvii
  • Maps ……..xix
  • Introductory Essay: Medieval Cairo and Its Inhabitants ..1
  • Survey of the Sources for the Study of the Medieval Cairene
  • Food Culture ……
  • 23
  • 1. Cookery Books ……27
  • 2. isba Manuals ……39
  • 3. Chronicles and Annalistic Sources ….42
  • 4. Travelers’ Accounts …..47
  • 5. Dietary and Medical Treatises ….53
  • 6. Works of Fiction and Adab ….55
  • 7. What the Delectable War is Really About: Re-reading the Curious Culinary Tale of the Mamluk Era …
  • PART ONE: ON FOOD
  • Chapter One The Cairene Menu: Genesis …67
  • 1. Sources of Culinary Inspiration ….67
  • A. Local Tradition ……67
  • B. Extra-Egyptian Influences ….72
  • 2. High and Low Cooking: Exchange and Difffusion ..82
  • 3. Street Food Business …..88
  • A. Technical Preconditions …..88
  • B. Food Producers, their Wares, and Market Control ..100
  • 4. The Cairene Cook …..119
  • 5. Customers ……124
  • vi contents
  • Chapter Two The Cairene Menu: Ingredients, Products, and Preparations ……. 133
  • Cereals ……. 136
    • Millet and Sorghum ….. 136
    • Barley ……. 138
    • Rice ……. 139
    • Wheat ……. 155
  • Meat ……. 173
  • Fowls and Eggs …… 198
  • Fish ……. 209
  • Dairy Products …… 225
  • Vegetables and Legumes ….. 244
  • Fruit ……. 264
  • Nuts and Seeds …… 286
  • Flavorings and Other Food Additives … 294
    • Salt ……. 296
    • Sweetening Agents ….. 298
    • Souring Agents …… 314
    • Oils and Fats …… 316
    • Spices, Herbs, Fragrances …. 323
    • Prepared Condiments ….. 340
  • Afterword …… 346
  • PART TWO: ON EATING
  • Chapter Three The Place to Eat …. 351
  • Public Consumption ….. 351
  • The Dining-Room …… 380
  • Chapter Four Sharing the Table …. 387
  • Note on the Arabic-Islamic Medieval Texts Related to the
  • Etiquette of Eating ….. 387
  • Routine Eating Practices ….. 404
    • The Common Table: Prerequisites, Conditions and Customs Related to the Idea of Eating …. 404
  • Hospitality and its Limits …. 404
  • The Host and the Guests—General Rules of Behavior . 408
  • Times of Meals ….. 414
  • The Object Called “Table” …. 414
  • .contents vii
    • The Meal …… 418
  • Washing Hands ….. 418
  • The Posture …… 421
  • Serving; Presentation and Tableware … 425
  • Starting the Meal ….. 431
  • Techniques of Eating …. 432
  • Behavior at the Table …. 434
    • After the Meal …… 446
  • Licking the Vessel and Licking Fingers .. 446
  • Ḥamdalla …… 447
  • Washing Hands ….. 448
  • Washing down the Food …. 450
  • Leaving …… 453
  • PART THREE: ON BEVERAGES
  • Chapter Five Non-Alcoholic Beverages … 457
  • Water ……. 457
  • Ashriba: Syrupy “Drinks” ….. 460
  • Fuqqāʿ and Aqsimā: Quasi-Alcoholic Drinks .. 465
  • Chapter Six Alcohol and Its Consumption in Medieval Cairo . 483
  • Drinks of the Mamluks ….. 484
  • Beers of Egyptians ….. 487
  • Wine in Egypt …… 493
  • Time and Place for Wine Drinking …. 499
  • Prohibition …… 513
  • Bibliography ……. 551
  • Primary Arabic Sources: Texts and Translations .. 551
  • Non-Arabic Primary Sources: Texts and Translations .. 556
  • Secondary Literature …… 559
  • Dictionaries and Reference Works …. 580
  • General Index ……. 581
  • Arabic Terms .

THE CAIRENE MENU: GENESIS

A. Local Tradition

As a rule, the foodstyle of a culture is, first of all, determined by the natural resources available for it.1 Defijining the local crops and market supplies is therefore of vital importance, for the supply may not only determine the “alimentary totality”2 but also help us to understand the demand.

This, in turn, may provide valuable clues regarding nutritional habits of a given population. The staples of medieval Cairo can be best defined by using the chroniclers’ records referring to periodic changes of food prices caused, above all, by the occurrences of epidemics or the low level of Nile floodwaters.

Following such changes leads to the discovery that in all of the local agriculture mutton, beef, chicken, geese, eggs, wheat, rice, broad beans, sugar, cheese, oil (especially sesame oil), and melons were the most sought-after goods. Apart from melons, also pears, pomegranates, and quinces, believed to possess therapeutic properties, were in demand, particularly during periods of plagues.3

Such a “discovery,” however, is not of much help in explaining the spirit behind the Cairene menu. True, it confirms the thesis that people usually cook from what they have at hand and preferably from what they know.

The problem is that in the case of Cairo of the Middle Ages it apparently worked the other way round, too. In other words, the city menu could be generally composed according to what the Egyptian countryside produced

but, at the same time, agriculture and the market had to accommodate the requirements of the new city’s conglomerate menu and the recipes behind it. After all, some necessities such as chicken, water bufffalo, rice, and sugar appeared in Egypt only after the Islamic conquest.

This is not to suggest that the traditional harvests of the local soil, or the millennia-long Egyptian experiments and experience with them, did not contribute to the making of the Cairene cuisine. Food habits are not easily alterable, nor are they susceptible to swift extinction.4

The food- style prevailing in the future al-Fusṭāṭ-Cairo area before the Islamic con- quest would not, therefore, simply pass into oblivion after the first Arab settlements had been founded in the location. On the contrary, it seems that indigenous Egyptian dishes, made from local produce and according to local traditional ways, overwhelmed the menu of Arab warrior newcomers.

Usually, when migrants settle in the new land, their food attracts the attention of their hosts. The first Arab-Muslim settlers of al-Fusṭāṭ tried to make the Egyptians appreciate their culinary culture, too. Their menu, based on meat, dates, barley, and milk, was crude and not too complex.5

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