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Monday, May 30, 2016

MELÓN WITH 4TH C A.D. RECIPE FOR MELON DRESSING FOR APERITIFS

Faces of Ancient Europe
Photo of Luis Meléndez -
Still Life with Melon and Pears
 L. Cucumis melo, Ar. destbuya or bettīh, Fr. melon, Eng. melon. It is a native of Jordan, which was imported to other countries under Roman domination. In Spain, Arabs introduced or reintroduced it from Egypt around 825 and it was first cultivated under Arab domain in Añover del Tajo, an al-Andalus town, no longer existing, named for a village near Rome.

It became a symbol in Muslim Spain for the excellent crops produced there in the Middle Ages. There it is planted between the beginning of April and the middle of May. Melons are ripe between mid-August and September. Over the same period melon was frequently eaten in León. During the 10th C it was served at the end of the meal with other fruits in season. The pulp was eaten for its refreshing sweetness. Melon has been eaten for breakfast, served as a dessert and consumed as an aperitif since Roman times.

Villena instructs to slice it lengthwise and remove the pits. He says it can be cut horizontally into rounds but it is better lengthwise. It has been said that Holy Roman Emperors Albert, Frederick III and Henry IV of Germany and Pope Paul II died as result of eating too much melon.

Avenzoar explains that the melon may experience a noxious transformation generating a humor similar to poison if when eaten this occurs. Because the melon has no astringent power to protect it, it accelerates the process of the noxious alteration. Even eating it with bread after a copious meal the alteration cannot be avoided. The meal in the stomach prevents the melon from leaving it. The chances of this happening are less than one in 1,000.


Chunks of Cold Melon
Tasty Any Time of Day
Photo by: Lord-Williams
If melon is eaten for breakfast it purifies and refreshes the organism if nothing else is consumed. It is expulsed through urination and bowel movements with part of the prejudicial humor. Melon, therefore, by cleaning the body balances it.

Medicinally, melon dissolves gall and kidney stones when the peel and seeds are drunk as an infusion. When smelled, it reanimates one suffering from fainting spells. By cleaning the body with the pulp, it is left refreshed and hydrated. It also alleviates heat exhaustion. Luis Lobera de Avila, court physician of Charles V of Hapsburg wrote in his medical manual of 1530 that melon seeds are humid and were used to reduce fever and to expel kidney stones.

[Bolens. 1990:34; ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 74; ES: Chu. Oct 13, 02; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:86-88; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:161 and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:42b]

LONG AND ROUND MELONS ADAPTED FROM FLOWER’S TRANSLATION OF APICIUS' III:VII. PEPONES ET MELONES, pp 78-79

A Perfect Appetizer
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Dressing:
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp mint leaves
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp fish bouillon cube or a pinch of salt
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 melon

Preparation

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate overnight.


Open the melon. Remove the seeds. Cut it into ½” cubes and pour the sauce over the melon and serve.

APICIUS' III:


Friday, May 27, 2016

MELLINAS WITH 13TH CENTURY RECIPE FOR LAMB WITH TRUFFLES

Fragment of Pair of Lappets
LACMA M-57-8.5 (1 of 2)
Photo from: Ashely Van Haeften 
Malinas, Flem Mechelen, Fr Malines, Eng linen from Mechlin, Belgium. It is located in north central Belgium in the province of Antwerp on the Dijle River.  The city is known also for lace making.

The Archprist of Hita mentions Mechlin cloth. Mark Singleton’s translation of this is:

            “You wretched food in convents eat—sardines immersed in brine.
            You woolen smocks accept, poor things, of plain and coarse design.
            Your lovers’ *cjoclem you reject—you will not eat their trout.
            Chemises pleated spurn you—Mechlin clothes you go without.”

*chicken.
[Singleton. 1975:132]


Henry IV of Castile (1454-1474) tried to prohibit the export of lambs’ wool to Belgium to be made into cloth and establish weaving factories in Castile. He was unsuccessful as nobles controlled the sheep paths in Castile, collecting taxes for passage, and the shipping business. They did not want to loose that income.

Annually, sheep were herded up sheep paths from eastern, western and southern Castile to Burgos where they were sheered. The wool was taken by mules to the Atlantic coast of Castile and shipped to what today is Belgium. Sheep grazed in the northern provinces during the summer and were herded south in the fall. 

Sheep only drink from still water. Shepherds took long breaks on the banks when they reached such ponds on their journeys along the sheep paths. If a lamb had an injured paw or leg, he was killed then and cooked. Many recipes handed down through the ages come from these shepherds.

Cooking Lamb in Onion Juice Enhances the Flavor
Photo by: Lord-Williams
[Enci Espasa. 1996:34:MED:594; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:236; Ruíz/Saínz. 1986:233:1394d;and Singleton. 1975:132]


DISH OF LAMB WITH TRUFFLES ADAPTED FROM HUICI'S TRANSLATION OF AL-ANDALUS #302 PLATO DE CARNE DE CORDERO CON TRUFAS, p 170

Ingredients

1 lb lamb 
1 onion
½ tsp pepper
salt to taste
½ lb truffles[1]
4 eggs

Absolutely Delicious
With or without Mechlin cloth!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Garnish:

½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp chopped rue

Preparation

Cut the meat into bite size pieces. Boil with onion juice, pepper, salt and water. In the meantime wash and chop truffles. When the water has evaporated, cook truffles in a separate pot.

When done, add them to the lamb. Break eggs over pot and sprinkle with murri. Remove from heat and place on hearthstone cover and let sit until eggs are cooked.

When ready to serve sprinkle with cinnamon and rue. 


[1] Wild mushrooms were used as truffle prices are prohibitive.

HUICI'S TRANSLATION OF AL-ANDALUS #302


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MELÍFERA WITH 13TH CENTURY RECIPE FOR DATE AND HONEY QURSAS

Nectar
Photo from: Johanna Sörensen

nectar flowers; flowers containing nectar used by bees to make honey. [Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:127; and Silva. 1994:173:174]

DATE AND HONEY QURSAS ADAPTED FROM HUICI’S TRANSLATION OF ANÓN AL-ANDALUS #466 DULCE DE DÁTILES Y MIEL, p 255



Ingredients

1 lb dates
1 lb honey
Chewy Date and Honey Sweeties
Photo by: Lord-Williams
¼ c almonds
¼ c walnuts
canola oil

Preparation

Remove pits from dates. Pound them in a mortar. Put them in a pot and cover with water. Slowly bring to a boil. Add honey. Stir until a thick syrup results. Add coarsely chopped nuts.  
Pour the mixture it over a heat resistant surface greased with canola oil. With it you make qursas (round cakes). Cut it with a knife in big or little pieces.

As the mixture was so soft, the first time balls were formed like bonbons.

ANOTHER INTERPRETATION OF THE RECIPE BY THE MEDIEVAL SPANISH CHEF

Qursas with Almond Flour
Ever So Hummy!

Photo by: Lord Williams 
Add ¾ c almonds and ¾ c walnuts to the date and honey mixture in the food processor. Fold
 ¼ c almonds and ¼ c walnuts into the mixture. Cooked to 200ºF/166ºC.

Grind ½ raw almonds into flour. Scattered some of this over a smooth surface and on a rolling pin.

Let the mass cool. Then roll it out and cut into squares. Sprinkle with flour.

  

Of the two adaptions, the latter is the richer and tastier.

ANÓN AL-ANDALUS #466