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Vinegar and sugar, dried fruit, rose water, spices from India and China, sweet wine made from raisins and dates—these are the flavors of the golden age of Arab cuisine. This book, a delightful culinary adventure that is part history and part cookbook, surveys the gastronomical art that developed at the Caliph's sumptuous palaces in ninth-and tenth-century Baghdad, drew ins Vinegar and sugar, dried fruit, rose water, spices from India and China, sweet wine made from raisins and dates—these are the flavors of the golden age of Arab cuisine. This book, a delightful culinary adventure that is part history and part cookbook, surveys the gastronomical art that developed at the Caliph's sumptuous palaces in ninth-and tenth-century Baghdad, drew inspiration from Persian, Greco-Roman, and Turkish cooking, and rapidly spread across the Mediterranean. In a charming narrative, Lilia Zaouali brings to life Islam's vibrant culinary heritage. The second half of the book gathers an extensive selection of original recipes drawn from medieval culinary sources along with thirty-one contemporary recipes that evoke the flavors of the Middle Ages. Featuring dishes such as Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Beef with Pistachios, Bazergan Couscous, Lamb Stew with Fresh Apricots, Tuna and Eggplant Purée with Vinegar and Caraway, and Stuffed Dates, the book also discusses topics such as cookware, utensils, aromatic substances, and condiments, making it both an entertaining read and an informative resource for anyone who enjoys the fine art of cooking.


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Vinegar and sugar, dried fruit, rose water, spices from India and China, sweet wine made from raisins and dates—these are the flavors of the golden age of Arab cuisine. This book, a delightful culinary adventure that is part history and part cookbook, surveys the gastronomical art that developed at the Caliph's sumptuous palaces in ninth-and tenth-century Baghdad, drew ins Vinegar and sugar, dried fruit, rose water, spices from India and China, sweet wine made from raisins and dates—these are the flavors of the golden age of Arab cuisine. This book, a delightful culinary adventure that is part history and part cookbook, surveys the gastronomical art that developed at the Caliph's sumptuous palaces in ninth-and tenth-century Baghdad, drew inspiration from Persian, Greco-Roman, and Turkish cooking, and rapidly spread across the Mediterranean. In a charming narrative, Lilia Zaouali brings to life Islam's vibrant culinary heritage. The second half of the book gathers an extensive selection of original recipes drawn from medieval culinary sources along with thirty-one contemporary recipes that evoke the flavors of the Middle Ages. Featuring dishes such as Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Beef with Pistachios, Bazergan Couscous, Lamb Stew with Fresh Apricots, Tuna and Eggplant Purée with Vinegar and Caraway, and Stuffed Dates, the book also discusses topics such as cookware, utensils, aromatic substances, and condiments, making it both an entertaining read and an informative resource for anyone who enjoys the fine art of cooking.

30 review for Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World: A Concise History with 174 Recipes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jelena Milašinović

    I really enjoyed reading this book, especially at the end of the year when festive dishes are prepared and enjoyed. My favourite part of the book is definitely the historical part at the beginning where the author talks the history of food in Islam and its relation to food. I also enjoyed learning about how cookbooks came about and learning about how tastes and dishes changed or adjusted through the various regions of the Islamic World. In addition I liked that the author included recipes, altho I really enjoyed reading this book, especially at the end of the year when festive dishes are prepared and enjoyed. My favourite part of the book is definitely the historical part at the beginning where the author talks the history of food in Islam and its relation to food. I also enjoyed learning about how cookbooks came about and learning about how tastes and dishes changed or adjusted through the various regions of the Islamic World. In addition I liked that the author included recipes, although many dishes were unfamiliar to me, and the use of American measurements in the contemporary recipes just gave me a headache. But other that those details, that might not even bother anyone but me, this book was a true delight - like a prefect desert at the end of the year!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I found this book inspirational, as a cookbook and as a work of history. First, for the cookbook: Cooking all over the world has, historically, been a trade learned through apprenticeship and practice, rarely through books. As such, cookbooks as well as individual recipes appear only scarcely in most cultures until well after the beginning of the 19th century…not true of Islamic cultures. The Islamic world from Baghdad to Córdoba began creating cookbooks as early as the 10th century A.D. Recipes I found this book inspirational, as a cookbook and as a work of history. First, for the cookbook: Cooking all over the world has, historically, been a trade learned through apprenticeship and practice, rarely through books. As such, cookbooks as well as individual recipes appear only scarcely in most cultures until well after the beginning of the 19th century…not true of Islamic cultures. The Islamic world from Baghdad to Córdoba began creating cookbooks as early as the 10th century A.D. Recipes comprise the entire second half of Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World. First comes a selection that Lilia Zaouali drew directly from medieval sources. Next comes a number of modern Middle Eastern recipes which echo the medieval ones in ingredients and preparation. A number of characteristics about medieval Islamic cookery spring immediately to the fore. It was a meat-heavy cuisine, even referring to vegetarian dishes as "counterfeit", though a number of the recipes seem quite adaptable to a vegetarian diet with minimal alterations or substitutions. Also, the palette of flavors used to create most dishes provides intriguing contrast to the herb-laden western arsenal (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc.). Most of the dishes in this book rely on spice - cumin, coriander, cinnamon, peppers - rather than herb and on a sweet/sour base rather than a savory one. Almost every dish calls for vinegar and most for honey or some other sweetener. I could not wait to finish this book simply so I could rush to my kitchen and begin experimenting. And delicious recipes comprise only one aspect of this lovely volume. Next, on to the history: In the first half of Zaouali's book, she offers an overview of Islamic culinary traditions and a brief discussion of the specific books she used in compiling her volume. Medieval Islamic nobility placed great value on fine cuisine. It put me in mind of Elizabethan England where so many noblemen wrote verse. In Baghdad, nobles may have turned out some poetry as well, but they also cooked. And they cooked feasts so lavish with dishes so intricate and heavily spiced that they began recording some of these wonders. Additionally, writers interested in medicine often included recipes for dishes deemed especially healthful. Even with this relative wealth of historical documentation and sources, re-enlivening something as intangible as thousand-year-old flavor proves formidable. These centuries-old recipes rely on assumed common knowledge that, in the 21st century, is no longer common. For example, one often reads the phrase, "the usual amount" for a measurement or is advised to cook something for the "normal amount of time". "[U]sual" and "normal" in the context of a medieval recipe have lost their meaning for a modern reader (or cook). As with so much in history, even with this treasure trove of sources, our final recourse to reconstructing medieval cookery from Andalusia, across the Maghreb and into Persia, remains firmly with the imagination.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cedric

    Excellent food history of cuisine as portrayed in medieval Arabic manuscripts. Includes many recipes for cooks who wish to experiment. Fascinating insights into how recipes have changed, or how the names have come to be applied to totally different dishes. Also very good on the differences between the cuisine of the eastern part of the medieval Islamic world and the western part centred in Andalusia and North Africa. Also of the Persian and Greco - Roman links and some fascinating insights into Excellent food history of cuisine as portrayed in medieval Arabic manuscripts. Includes many recipes for cooks who wish to experiment. Fascinating insights into how recipes have changed, or how the names have come to be applied to totally different dishes. Also very good on the differences between the cuisine of the eastern part of the medieval Islamic world and the western part centred in Andalusia and North Africa. Also of the Persian and Greco - Roman links and some fascinating insights into the transmission of foodways into Europe. Includes a number of contemporary Maghrebi recipes illustrating the transmission of medieval cuisine from Andalusia into North Africa from the post-1492 expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain.

  4. 4 out of 5

    charta

    La storia attraverso il cibo. Incroci, commessure, melange e fusioni. Ricette medioevali arricchite di aneddoti per meglio "gustare" ciò che spesso abbiamo solo orecchiato, magari grazie a qualche ristorante a la page o alla recensione del fùdbloggher mainstrim. Rispetto agli originali arabi c'è qualche discrepanza, forse l'autrice non li ha letti in lingua (d'altronde stiamo parlando di manoscritti, averne delle copie non è così facile o immediato). Ciò non ostante il melting pot che ci propone La storia attraverso il cibo. Incroci, commessure, melange e fusioni. Ricette medioevali arricchite di aneddoti per meglio "gustare" ciò che spesso abbiamo solo orecchiato, magari grazie a qualche ristorante a la page o alla recensione del fùdbloggher mainstrim. Rispetto agli originali arabi c'è qualche discrepanza, forse l'autrice non li ha letti in lingua (d'altronde stiamo parlando di manoscritti, averne delle copie non è così facile o immediato). Ciò non ostante il melting pot che ci propone è notevole. Quando la "globalizzazione" era ricchezza e non omologazione...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    The subject matter is presented as dry as possible (to make sure no one’s having too much fun with history) but despite the academic desiccation, underneath that is a suggestion of a fascinating time period and culture.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Part culinary history, part cookbook, with recipes both for the modern kitchen and those that are likely to remain firmly in the past, at least for now (locust snacks).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mirriam Seddiq

    The book of my dreams. So much history packed into one small volume. It’s dense but fascinating.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ferruccio

    Lilia Zaouali This is not my review, it is information on the author. Source: http://www.narrazionidamore.it/index.... Lilia Zaouali è nata nel 1960 a Sfax, in Tunisia. Parla e scrive in arabo, francese, italiano e inglese. Dopo aver concluso il dottorato al Dipartimento di Studi arabi e islamici dell’Università Sorbonne -Paris-IV, ha insegnato Antropologia del mondo musulmano all’Università Paris-VII e presso la Sarah Lawrence American Academy. Si è dedicato poi alla studio della storia dei porti Lilia Zaouali This is not my review, it is information on the author. Source: http://www.narrazionidamore.it/index.... Lilia Zaouali è nata nel 1960 a Sfax, in Tunisia. Parla e scrive in arabo, francese, italiano e inglese. Dopo aver concluso il dottorato al Dipartimento di Studi arabi e islamici dell’Università Sorbonne -Paris-IV, ha insegnato Antropologia del mondo musulmano all’Università Paris-VII e presso la Sarah Lawrence American Academy. Si è dedicato poi alla studio della storia dei porti maghrebini e di alcuni gruppi etnici. Attualmente vive prevalentemente tra Torino e Tunisi e tiene corsi di Istituzioni formali e informali nell’Islam presso la Facoltà di Giurisprudenza dell’Università del Piemonte Orientale, Alessandria. Da quando ha iniziato a dedicarsi principalmente alla storia del cibo collabora con l’organizzazione internazionale Slow Food. Collabora occasionalmente a quotidiani e periodici italiani, tra cui Il manifesto, La Stampa, Repubblica, Medioevo, Micromega, Slow. Lilia Zaouali, già nella sua infanzia, ha conosciuto la cultura siciliana nel suo paese e quando negli anni ottanta è arrivata a Palermo alla ricerca di una cultura diversa si è trovata come a casa: in particolare gli odori della cucina erano gli stessi. Palermo era Tunisi ed è ripartita per altre città e per scoprire realtà diverse. Nel suo libro sulla cucina islamica affiorano le similarità tra la cucina siciliana e quella islamica-tunisina. A tavola le due culture hanno avuto frequenti incroci e si sono vicendevolmente arricchite. ''La letteratura mi ha permesso di scoprire l'Europa prima di esserci venuta. Balzac, Voltaire, Pirandello, Goethe: ogni scrittore europeo mi ha portato nel suo Paese e mi ha fatto venir voglia di attraversare il Mediterraneo per conoscerlo'', afferma Laila Zaouali, scrittrice tunisina che a 20 anni e' diventata ''cittadina d'Europa''. L'abbattimento delle barriere culturali, dice Zaouali, ''non si fonda sulla tolleranza, termine che non vuol dire niente, ma sul riconoscimento reciproco''. Vale anche per la cultura mediterranea. ''Se lo vogliamo, puo' esistere, dipende solo da noi - dice la scrittrice tunisina - Basterebbe che il Nord smettesse di dire che il Sud ha bisogno e riconoscesse la necessita' di un rapporto di scambio''. ''Ma la gente del Sud, a sua volta, deve prendere coscienza delle sue affinita' storiche con l'intero Mediterraneo, piu' importanti di qualsiasi religione - dichiara Zaouali. Ciascuno di noi e' un po' tutti gli altri. Io sono tunisina, ma anche greca, italiana, turca e quant' altro''. Soprattutto c'e' un filo conduttore che lega tutte le donne, del bacino del Mediterraneo come del mondo. ''Le rivendicazioni sono le stesse dappertutto, nel Maghreb come in Calabria'', osserva la scrittrice tunisina.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Horus

    This actually, is an excellent book, with lotsof very interesting information not always directly connected to the subject of food. My reservations are purely academic. This is published in a series on food history by the University of California Press. There isn't a bibliography as such. Being sort of a cook book, one might allow for the lack of one, and the author does list and discuss the four main food manuscripts the recipies come from or may have been based on. However, the first half of t This actually, is an excellent book, with lotsof very interesting information not always directly connected to the subject of food. My reservations are purely academic. This is published in a series on food history by the University of California Press. There isn't a bibliography as such. Being sort of a cook book, one might allow for the lack of one, and the author does list and discuss the four main food manuscripts the recipies come from or may have been based on. However, the first half of the book is academic history containing some very worthwhile and pertinent discussion regading food and culture in the middle east. Any bibliography for the book at all is contained within endnotes. I have a personal peeve against bibliography in endnotes, as it seems a lazy way of documentation, often leaving the reader the responsibility of filtering through however many Ibids may exist to find the desired citation. I think it also allows for missed citations as well, which I did experience in this text, trying to find the original listin of a poem the author translated. Upon checking the connected endnote, I'm told that the poem presented is the author's translation, but not from what it was translated. Overall, this is an excellent book for those interested in early (and modern) middle eastern cooking. Researchers just need to be prepared to dig moreso than normal to follow up on interesting tidbits.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Walt

    I was excited to see this unusual book filled with exotic recipes that sound delicious. Unfortunately, the text is very difficult to follow, especially if you are using it for directions. The author clearly is excited about the material and encourages the reader to "experiment." For folk who have not "experimented" with unusual spices and ingredients, this is not a good selection. The bulk of the text is recipes from the medieval world and they do not use measurements or times. These are a bit c I was excited to see this unusual book filled with exotic recipes that sound delicious. Unfortunately, the text is very difficult to follow, especially if you are using it for directions. The author clearly is excited about the material and encourages the reader to "experiment." For folk who have not "experimented" with unusual spices and ingredients, this is not a good selection. The bulk of the text is recipes from the medieval world and they do not use measurements or times. These are a bit crucial. Towards the end, Zaouali includes some modern adaptations, but again, there are difficulties in securing some of the odd ingredients. I found some substitutes for key ingredients, but others are a total mystery to me. I still do not know where I could find ras el-hanut. There are not many Arabic or Lebanese markets in the Deep South.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Islam at the Table: From the Middle Ages to the Present--a study of medieval cuisine of the Islamic Mediterranean drawn from the many cookbooks and surviving traditions, showing the long trade lengths (rice and ginger from China), Berber influences (couscous and Tagine methods), ingredients local to the Middle East (sumac/za'atar, eggplants, sugarcane, lemons, rose-water), halal rules and the available baking ovens and cooking surfaces. With sidelights on etiquette and cleanliness rules, as well Islam at the Table: From the Middle Ages to the Present--a study of medieval cuisine of the Islamic Mediterranean drawn from the many cookbooks and surviving traditions, showing the long trade lengths (rice and ginger from China), Berber influences (couscous and Tagine methods), ingredients local to the Middle East (sumac/za'atar, eggplants, sugarcane, lemons, rose-water), halal rules and the available baking ovens and cooking surfaces. With sidelights on etiquette and cleanliness rules, as well as the special demands of pickling or sugaring things for storage in a hot climate or for travel--pomegranate-raisin paste spiced with cumin and dried as medieval energy bars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rick Perez

    Zaouali's book is full of very interesting historical information on Muslim culture and food in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages. Based on four "cookbooks" written between the 10th and 13th Centuries, she discusses the ingredients available, various cooking processes, cookware, diet, and how dishes have changed over time. A large portion of the book is dedicated to recipes, which come from the cookbooks Zaouali examines. Zaouali's book is full of very interesting historical information on Muslim culture and food in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages. Based on four "cookbooks" written between the 10th and 13th Centuries, she discusses the ingredients available, various cooking processes, cookware, diet, and how dishes have changed over time. A large portion of the book is dedicated to recipes, which come from the cookbooks Zaouali examines.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    Lovers of food history will appreciate this fine volume from Lilia Zaouali, which summarizes and introduces readers to medieval Islamic elite cookery. A collection of recipes at the end permit readers to personally savor and serve history on the table. This would be a fun book for a small group to study and share over a meal prepared from the recipes included.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Fascinating and scholarly read. Plenty of recipes, but very much a history and not just a cookbook. One quibble - I badly wish it had a glossary for the unfamiliar dish et al names (especially the ones similar enough for confusion) in the text so that they can be easily verified vs going through the index

  15. 5 out of 5

    SFBlau

    Arrived

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    fun to read, interesting and will definitely try some of the recipes!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

  18. 4 out of 5

    Edmund

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kari

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oraib Khalifeh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dietrich Schwelgengräber

  24. 4 out of 5

    Simon Parizhsky

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip Jenks

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leah Schonberg

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  29. 5 out of 5

    N.L. Riviezzo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

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