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Friday, December 19, 2014


Pinegrabate Flower .......
Photo from: Lucy (Ijucsu)
L. Punica granatum, Heb Sp mangrána, Eng. pomegranates (fruit). The word is derived from the Latin granate, the fruit, not the Moorish Kingdom in Andalusia. Although a native of Syria, the Persians cultivated and disseminated it throughout all areas capable of growing it including Andalusia.

The flower was one of the most loved in Muslim gardens of the 11th C in Al-Andalus. Seldom do pomegranates appear in medieval European recipes, outside of Spain, although they were familiar with granate. In Al-Andalus there was not a fruit basket without pomegranates and oranges. The pomegranate became a symbol of Muslim quality in Al-Andalus. A 12-13 C. manuscript claims that Mohammad said that Alpujarra, near Seville, was: “The city of the pomegranate; eat the pomegranate to make all bitterness and jealousy vanish.” (This is Granada.)

Photo from: Muhammed Ali
There are sweet, sour and semi-sweet pomegranates. Villena instructs to peel off the leathery skin starting from each end. Then quarter the flesh and discard the cream colored membrane surrounding the seeds. Cut the flesh into small chunks saving the seeds as they were valued more than the fruit. Desserts made with them were thought to be the finest and most delicate. The north might have currants, strawberries and raspberries but the flavor of a pomegranate beats all, according Andalusians. Throughout Al-Andalus, the pomegranate was a fundamental fruit for cooking in general, from meats to fish, for the sick and the healthy and in cakes and sauces.

There pomegranate syrup was made with equal amounts of sweet and sour pomegranates and sugar boiled together until it thickened. This keeps indefinitely without refrigeration and is used for making a cold drink by adding water. By adding almond milk or water, it is used in blancmange or in roasts. The cold drink has been imbibed to quench the thirst.

Avenzoar claims making syrup with only bitter pomegranates was more efficacious than a syrup of sweat ones. It is prescribed for fevers and to lighten the body. It alleviates dry coughs and throat irritations. Avenzoar, however, states that its fundamental properties are to stop alterations of food in the stomach and to impede food from spoiling.

Pomegranate Juice
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Nola called for cajín (green, bitter pomegranates), also known to relieve high fevers and added to nine sweet and sour dishes (see agridulce) for which he gives recipes. Further, Nola wrote about a wine made with pomegranates and a juice made from the seeds and left to sit in the open air for one night.

During the first half of 11 C Aetios, the Greek physician, prescribed it for birth control. He advised men to smear it on their penises to avoid conception. It was given to pigs to eat for the same purpose. The bark from the root was prescribed as a strong purgatory to liberate oneself of rebellious humors and to kill worms. The seeds appear in Sommachia a dish consisting of sumac and lemons. 

They were shipped to northern European countries after they were dried. This was done by peeling the pomegranate. Another method was to leave the whole fruit with the seeds inside and dry it. Dried seeds resemble raisins. The English used them in a dish called “Berandyles”, a spiced soup of strained minced beef and chicken with the seeds sprinkled on top, which could have been of Arab origin. In Al-Andalus, pomegranates were obviously there by the 12 C and thought to be one of the most exquisite fruits given by God. The seeds were compared to diamonds and rubies. See camalma and semillas de granadas cocidas. [Aguilera. 2002:95; Curye. 1985:171; ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:ftn 77; ES: Calle. “Poetas.” Sep 21, 01; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:103; Nola. 1989: xviii-3:xxix-3:xxxi-1 etc.; Nola/Pérez. 1994:185; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:43a]



Simply Delicious
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 lb meat
1 c vinegar
½ c almonds
1 c pomegranate juice[2]
1 lump of sugar


1 tsp cinnamon


Cut the meat up small and fry with oil and salt, and when it is brown, cook it until done in vinegar.

Pound a handful of almonds or walnuts and throw them on and gently boil a while.

Dissolve  a lump of sugar in pomegranate juice to eliminate tarness and sprinkle with cinnamon.

[1] Perry says this is a Persian name but neither he nor Huici explain the meaning.
[2] As pomegranates were not in season, ready made juice was used. As it was sweetened, sugar was not added.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Photo from: ilovepiana
gota coral, mal caduca, epilepsia, epilepsy. From Ancient times through 16th C at least, epilepsy could be referred to as "gout," “corral gout,” “senile gout,” or “decrepit bad,” which has lead to misinterpretations of Spanish documents. Gerard of Cremona described the disadvantages of frequent consumption of wines leading to alcoholism, which he thought often causes many serious diseases such as epilepsy.

Food stuffs to treat epilepsy include chewing French lavender (cantueso), celandine (celidonia), camphor (alcanfor), musk root (nardo) and rue (ruda).
Biel (hiel) also was thought useful for epilepsy. A bull’s bile was wrapped in a stone the color of saffron; this can be ground and drunk with wine. Blowing the powder into the nostrils clarifies the sight, checks the humors and tends to distil the eyes and is useful for epilepsy.

Partridge (perdiz) liver was dried and pulverized and drunk for epilepsy.
Avenzoar cautioned that cabbage (col) was the worst vegetable in existence for it generates epilepsy. Pliny prescribed mustard to cure all pains in any part of the body, lethargy and epilepsy, see mostaza.
 [Font. Plantas. 1999:982; and Laza. 2002:136]



1 chicken or hen
Pliny's Cure All - Mustard Seed
Photo by: Lord-Williams
salt to taste
1 onion
6 sprigs cilantro
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seed
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp caraway

1 c cilantro juice
½  c vinegar
2 tbsp murri[1]
½ c almonds
4 eggs
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp ground mustard[2]


A Most Delicious Chicken Variation
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cut up the chicken and place in a pot with salt and onion chopped and mashed in a food processor with cilantro, oil, coriander seed, pepper and caraway; heat until it boils.

After gently boiling for one hour, add cilantro juice, vinegar, and murri.

When the meat is cooked, grind peeled almonds and stir them with a raw egg, pepper, green and dried ground coriander and mustard; pour all this into the pan and add three egg yolks. Turn off heat and let rest for 20 minutes and serve, if God so wishes.

[1] See blog titled almorí published August 25, 2011 for recipe.
[2] The text directly translated means “prepared mustard,” which cannot be because the process of grinding mustard is not the same as today. The grinding process nowadays is a 19th century discovery. Mustard in this case, would be the equivalent of grinding mustard seed in a food grinder in the humble opinion of The Medieval Spanish Chef. It did turn out to be very tasty.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Carlos V's sedan chair in
Monasterio de Yuste
Photo from: dOgwalker
gout. It is conjected that the Iranzo chronicle describes this as corns. Because Miquel Lucas Iranzo suffered from gout, contineous journeys with Henry III of Castile, a saddle king, were most painful for Iranzo. To prove that he was unfit to ride, he cut a toe several times to make pain visible.

Other sources define gout it as a swelling of upper and/or lower extremities, lumps or paralysis. This, in medieval times, it was thought to have been caused by an unbalanced diet due to overeating associated with obesity and dubbed ‘rich man’s disease’. Gout, therefore, was a disease pertinent to the upper class. Avenzoar prescribed massages on the back of the head where it is joined to the backbone with sweet olive oil to alleviate pain.

Today, it is known that gout  is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). Uric acid is produced in the body through the breakdown of purines, chemical compounds that are found in certain foods such as meat, poultry and seafood.

Henry VIII of England
Photo from: Alex Loach 
Gout was known as the disease of kings. Those suffering from it tended to be heavy drinkers and obese. Gout changed Spanish history. Catherine Lancaster, wife of Henry II of Castile, was an alcoholic, obese and suffered from gout. She died when her son and heir, Juan II was 13 years old. Juan II, father of Isabel I, the Catholic Queen, was weak politically and the economic situation in Castile was not good. Had his mother lived la healthier life, perhaps she could have continributed to his personality. Due to his father's death before he was born and his mother's problems, he spent his life dependant on the the equivalent of today's prime minister.

Because Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire), great grandson of Juan II, suffered from gout so severely, he discontinued his war in the Netherlands to maintain the Spanish dominance there. He renounced the Spanish throne in favor of his son Philip II who, in turn, died after a severe attack of gout. Charles I’s counterpart, Henry VIII was thought to have changed his personality, as he was plagues with gout.

As seen in the photo above a "sedan chair" was used to carry Charles I to the Monastery of Yuste when sojourning in the Palace of the Counts of Oropesa who lived nearby (today a National Parador) until a bedroom was built for the king in between the church and a fish pond where the emperor could hear and see masses from his bed and fish when it behooved him.

[Castro. Alimentación. 1996:213:226-228; Font. Plantas. 1999:982; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:140; and Mata. 1940:26]


Deliciously Fattening!
Photo by: Lord-Williams

¼ c almondscanola oil for frying
2/3 c rose hip syrup[1]
¼ c red wine
2 tbsp ground rice
cinnamon to taste


pomegranate seeds
(pomegranate seeds were not in season)


Put almonds in a pan with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and peel them. Chop them in a mortar or food processor.

Heat a frying pan. Add a little canola oil. When hot add the almonds and fry until golden brown. Add hip syrup and red wine.

Grind rise in a mortar or a food processor. Heat a pan and add the rice. Add the almond-hip syrup sauce little by little. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve hot with meat.

Add caption
Meat Ingredients

1 lb diced meat
1 c almonds
1 qt meat broth
olive oil for frying
2 tbsp flour (optional)


Dice the meat and remove excess fat. Set aside.

Put hot water in a pan. Add almonds and bring to a boil. Removed from heat and peel them.

Put them in a food processor and grind the nuts. Add meat broth and grind again. Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard the almonds.

Brown the meat in a frying pan with olive oil. When done put it in a pot with the almond milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour until the meat is tender.

If a thicker almond milk is desired slowly add flour to the milk over low heat until it thickens. Serve with the saracen sauce.

[1] As this was not available maple syrup was used as a substitute. Orange juice can also be used as a substitute.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Angels' Soufflé with Finely Grated Cheese on Top
Ready to Pop into the Oven
Photo by: Lord-Williams
(Literally, bird feed for angels), Angels' souffle. A sweet cheese soufflé dish consisting of milk, eggs, sugar and grated cheese.

[Villena/Brown. 1984:137; and Villena/Calero. 2002:119]


¼ c butter, softened
¾ c breadcrumbs
3 large eggs, separated
1 c whole milk
½ tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste


A Soufflé for All the Angels in Your Household
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Grease a 1 ½ qt soufflé dish or round pie dish. Rub the surface with some of the butter. Then dust with 1 tbsp of the breadcrumbs.
Put the rest of the butter in a pan over a low heat. Add the rest of the breadcrumbs. When the butter has melted. add milk gradually. Add the mustard. Cook until thick like custard. Do not boil.

Put the whites into one large bowl and the yolks into another. Beat the yolks. Add the milky mixture and half of the grated cheese to the egg yolks. Set aside for 5 minutes for breadcrumbs to swell a little. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold into the milk mixture. Pour into the baking dish, sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese, on top. 

Bake in the oven for 2 hours. When browned on top cover with foil and continue baking until done. It is ready when set in the center. Take it immediately to the table and serve.