[Sca-cooks] Salty carrots

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 29 00:55:00 PDT 2008

Suey wrote:
>Terry Decker clarified my queries about the origin of different
>types of carrots. Thank you very much. I did not even know the European
>carrot was white! Curious the more we learn the more we need to know.

I'd assume just from reading recipes they had 
other differences. Most of the Arabic language 
recipes say to remove the centers before 
preparing to cook them, which is unnecessary with 
the type of carrots we have now.

>My next quest is going to be the beet. Does that have a Scottish
>tale to go with it - beet red?


>How about the artichoke? Huici translates it as existing in the 13th
>C. Perry says it was still chard.

I think you've got some of these vegetables confused.

It is possible that artichokes (Cynara scolymus) 
did not exist in 13th C. al-Andalus, and the 
cookbook may call for their relative and 
predecessor, the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), 
whose stalks (not leaves) were eaten steamed or 
braised and which are said to taste rather like 
artichokes. On the other hand, the wikipedia 
article on artichokes says they were developed in 
the Maghrib and introduced to Italy from there 
around the 9th C. There's citation for [Watson, 
Andrew. Agricultural innovation in the early 
Islamic world. Cambridge University Press. p.64] 
but that may just point to the development of the 
artichoke in the Muslim world.

Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla), sometimes 
called Silverbeet, is a leafy green quite 
unrelated to the artichoke, or cardoon for that 
matter, and i don't recall seeing Perry 
substitute chard for cardoon or artichoke. So I 
think you may have mixed up chard and cardoons...

On the other hand, there is often confusion 
between beets and chard in translations of Arabic 
cookbooks, and in Medieval European cookbooks, 
too. They are, after all, both species of Beta 
vulgaris. What is sometimes translated into 
English as "beet" (which makes me, at least, 
think of the red root) is in Arabic "silq", which 
is chard or perhaps beet leaves (but not the 
roots). I don't know how Huici translated "silq" 
into Spanish. Perry worked from the original 
Arabic, not from Huici's Spanish, and in his 
translation he points out some spots where Huici 
erred. I've no idea if beets is one of them.

Of course beet roots weren't then what they are 
now. Few recipes that call for beets - until the 
late 15th and 16th centuries, if i'm getting the 
dates right - want the roots. They're usually 
either for chard or for beet leaves. By Marx 
Rumpolt's time (late 16th c.) real beet roots are 
being used, since they are specified in his 
cookbook as red roots (rote ruben, if i got his 
spelling right).

Beet leaves are quite tasty when tender and not 
too old and coarse. I started cooking with them 
in the early 70s. It always annoys me when the 
bunches of beets have topped - i like beets ok, 
but i really prefer the leaves.

Wandering onto a slight tangent, radish leaves, 
very gently cooked in a tad of butter or olive 
oil are good too - that's something i learned 
while living in France.

OK, i just searched Perry's translation of the 
anonymous Andalusian cookbook, including the 
notes by Perry and others.

Cardoons show up in only two recipes:
266. Preparing a Dish With Cardoon, and 267. 
Preparing a Dish of Cardoons with Meat.
There's a footnote for the word "cardoon":
[104] A giant thistle with edible stalks from 
which the artichoke was developed, almost 
certainly in Andalusia (our word artichoke 
ultimately comes from "al kharshuf," which is a 
diminutive of "kharshaf.") Since the recipes say 
nothing about leaves, choke or calyx, I think we 
should assume that cardoon is really what is 
being called for here; probably the artichoke had 
not been developed yet. (CP)

As for chard, it is called for in six recipes:
81. Recipe for a Dish of Olives; 181. A Dish 
Suitable for Autumn; 188. Tharda with Heads of 
Swiss Chard; 318. Baqliyya Mukarrara (repeated or 
refined dish of vegetables); 348. A Muzawwara 
(Vegetarian Dish) Beneficial for Tertian Fevers 
and Acute Fevers; 349. Jannâniyya (the Gardener's 
I found no footnotes associated with the word "chard" or "beet".
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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