[Sca-cooks] Recipes for a handout

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Mon Jan 15 19:10:20 PST 2007

>Hello all,
>This Saturday at al-Hafla I'll be doing a class on Sicily under the 
>Arabs and the Arab-influenced Normans. I thought as part of the 
>handout I could include a couple of recipes that are MODERN Sicilian 
>and Southern Italian recipes, but are directly influenced by the 
>Arabs and their cuisine. I thought about including some period 
>recipes from elsewhere in the Middle East, but there were already 
>indications by the 900s that foodways there had started to differ 
>from in the Middle East (see my note about onions below).

While I can see the argument about Sicilian food diverging, I still 
have two problems with your solution.

1. It is likely to encourage the already common confusion between 
ethnic and period. However careful you are to explain that these are 
modern Sicilian recipes that you think might be close to ones in 
period, people are going to come away thinking of them as period 
recipes and believing that they can get period recipes by looking at 
a modern ethnic cookbook and (perhaps) filtering out the ones that 
use tomatoes.

2. Even if Sicilian cooking was diverging by the 900's, do you think 
it likely that it changed more in the two hundred years from 900 to 
(say) 1100 than it did in the 900 years from 1100 to now? If not, 
then there is no reason to think that modern Sicilian recipes are 
closer to the Sicilian cooking of 1100 than period recipes from 
elsewhere in al-Islam are.

Of course, you are getting a significantly closer match by trying to 
find modern recipes that look to you as though they might be period. 
But you could do the same thing in the opposite direction, by 
selecting period islamic recipes that fit whatever you know about 
period Sicilian cooking--for instance selecting in favor of recipes 
with onions in them.

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