[ This article is written in personna. ]
In the Name of ALLAH
The Compassionate, the Merciful,
Lord of the Three Worlds;
I rely upon ALLAH,
The Unique, the Victorious.
It is said "Upon ALLAH we rely,"
and from Him also do we invoke a benediction for all of His prophets and worshippers
who are sincere in obeying Him,
for there is no strength and no power
except with ALLAH,
The Exalted, the Almighty.
Now in my first chapter I wrote concerning the receyts of the English Franks. In this chapter I shall write some of the receyts of the Italian Franks. But lest you think that I concern myself only with the doings of the unbelievers, in the next I will give some of the receyts that we use in al-Andalus.
The island of Italy is attached to the southern coast of Frangistan. In the north of that island is the dwelling of the Caliph of the Franks, and he rules in the city that was the capital of the Romans before the Franks conquered it from them. Much of the south was for a long time held by the Romans, and there also were settlements of our people. But of late it has been seized by a warlike tribe of the Franks, and also most of the island of Sicily, the holding of the Aghlabids. Even so in our fathers' time was Sicily seized by the Romans, yet we won it back. And so shall it be again, Inshallah.
But I said that I would write concerning the receyptes of the Italian Franks, and so I must do so. I set them out as they came into my hands.
Take lean meat and let it boil, then cut it up finely and cook it again for half an hour in rich juice, having first added bread crumbs. Add a little pepper and saffron.
When it has cooled a little, add beaten eggs, grated cheese, parsley, marjoram, finely chopped mint with a little verjuice. Blend them all together in a pot, stirring them slowly with a spoon so that they do not form a ball. The same may be done with livers and lungs.
Put together on a spit capons or pullets or pigeons well cleaned and washed and turn them over the hearth until they are half cooked. Then remove them and cut them in pieces and put them in a pot. Then chop almonds that have been toasted under warm ashes and cleaned with some cloth. To this add some bread crumbs lightly toasted with vinegar and juice and pass all this through a strainer. This is all put in the same pot with cinnamon and ginger and a good amount of sugar and left to boil on the live coals with a slow fire until it is done, all the time being stirred with a spoon so that it does not stick to the pot. It is quite nourishing, long in being digested; it warms the liver and kidneys and fattens the body and stirs the belly.
Catalonia, from which this recipe is reputed to come, is a Frankish province on the border of al-Andalus. It lies to the north of Valencia, the city ruled by Roger Canbitur (curses be upon him for an unbeliever), a wicked man but a marvel of Allah for valor and prowesse. It is said that he is now dead; Allah grant that it be so.
Scrape off the skin from the gourd and cut it sideways in thin slices. When it has boiled once, transfer it from the pot onto the board and leave it there until it has dried out a little. Then roll it in salt and good white flour and fry it in oil; when it is done and put on a platter, pour a garlic sauce over it, with fennel blossoms and bread crumbs so dissolved in verjuice that it looks thin rather than thick. It would not be amiss to pass this sauce through a strainer. There are those, too, who use only verjuice and fennel bloom. If you like saffron, add saffron.
To almonds or walnuts that have been coarsely ground, add as much cleaned garlic as you want and likewise, as need be, grind them up well, sprinkling them all the while so that they do not make oil. When they are ground up, put in white bread crumbs softened in juice of meat or fish, and grind again. And if it seems too stiff, it can be softened easily in the same juice. It will keep very readily for a long time, as we said about mustard. This dish is little nourishing, remains a long time in the stomach, dulls the eyesight and warms the liver.
Morsels of apples that have been cleaned and cored, you fry in liquamen or a little oil, and spread them on a board so that they dry. Then roll them in a preparation such as we have described earlier, and fry again. If you lick this up, be advised that it will be bad for you.
In an earlier recipe, the preparation in which the frictellae are rolled is described thus: To grated cheese, aged as well as fresh, add a little meal, some egg whites, some milk, a bit more sugar, and grind all this together in the same mortar.
As to the liquamen which this recipe speaks of, that is the clarified fat of pork, which the Franks use in their cooking, being ignorant of the laws of Allah (the Compassionate, the Merciful). I believe that tail, such as we use to fry with both in the East and the West, would do as well.
In order to give readers a chance to work out period recipes for themselves, I have given them in their original forms. The following is a worked out version of the first recipe-which has become our favorite period soup.
Take 2 1/2 lb of stew beef and simmer it in enough water to cover for about 20 minutes. Drain it, reserving the broth, and cut it in 1" cubes. Add to the broth 2 cans (21 ounces) of beef bouillion. Stir in 1 cup of bread crumbs and simmer it for half an hour, then add 1/2 t pepper and a very small pinch of saffron.
Let the liquid cool slightly. Stir in 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup of ground cheese (half Mozzarella, half Monterey Jack), 1/4 cup of parsley, 1/2 t dried marjoram, 1 T chopped fresh mint, and 1/4 c verjuice (2 T wine vinegar + 2 T water). Stir it all together and serve.
Verjuice is the juice of unripe grapes, crabapples, or other sour fruits. I frequently substitute dilute vinegar. "Tail" (referred to by Cariadoc, not Platina) is fat from sheep tails, commonly used as a cooking oil in medieval Islamic recipes. Liquamen in Platina is pork fat; it seems to have no connection with the liquamen used extensively in Roman cooking. Rodrigo Diaz el Compeador (hence Roger Canbitur to Moorish contemporaries), more commonly known as el Cid, died in 1099.
"Island" (Jazírah) in Arabic also means "Peninsula," and causes much confusion in geographical matters. Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.
The source for the recipes is Platina, De honesta voluptate,Venice, L. De Aguila, 1475, Elizabeth Buermann Andrews tr., Volume V from the Mallinckrodt Collection of Food Classics, (c) Mallinckrodt Chemical Works 1967. The comments are from the perspective of Cariadoc, c. 1100. "It is Allah that knoweth all things."
(Originally published in Tournaments Illuminated #86, Spring 1988)
Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir