[Sca-cooks] Sugar and rice in Iberia

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Wed Jul 4 13:06:20 PDT 2007

Stefan wrote:
> . . . we have no way to determine how much earlier they were being 
> used. In this case, the recipe is probably being casually tied to the 
> Arab invasion of Iberia in 711 and the commonly accepted opinion that 
> they brought rice and sugar to the peninsula. >>> 711? Rice and sugar 
> in Europe, even if you include Iberia, that early? That is much 
> earlier than I had gathered from earlier discussions. I'm surprised 
> they wouldn't have spread north from there within centuries of then. I 
> got the impression from earlier discussions that both came in from the 
> east, not from the southwest. Or is this complicated by the fact that 
> while known in Spain they weren't really widely used because they were 
> still items that had to be imported from the east? 
and Volker Bach wrote:
> Richard Fletcher speculates that the tipping point lay somewhere in 
> the 9th/early 10th century. Before that time, even if both crops had 
> been introduced, they would have been limited to market gardens 
> catering to the foreign elite (and with strong trade flows in the 9th 
> century, there's no reason they couldn't have been imported). Of 
> course, by the twelfth century sugar and rice are common crops, so the 
> introduction can't have been much later, either. Also, there's little 
> reason to think the Visigoths were unaware of rice or sugar even if 
> they didn't produce either. 

    I have found that rice was cultivated by the Byzantines during the 
6th C in southwestern Spain but on such a small scale that the Muslims 
had to import in the beginning of their reign and took sacks of with 
them when they first went to Valencia. The Fletcher speculation could 
hold water as irrigation systems in Al-Andalus were re-established and 
expanded between the 8-10th C which could be a factor upholding this 
theory. Now we do have Avenzoar (1073-1162) commenting on rice bread 
which he claims difficult to digest.  The 13th C Hispano-Arabic 
anonymous MSS contains at least a half a dozen recipes with rice in the 
title and many more calling for it as an ingredient.
    Stefan as far as the spread of rice is concerned from the Far East 
to Europe please see your rice-msg 
http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-BREADS/rice-msg.html  The answer 
there is pretty clear :-D . Rice that was first cultivated in Spain by 
the Muslims was around Seville and then spread over Al-Andalus and 
northeast to Valencia. It had to have taken hold there by the time James 
I conquered it from the Muslims in 1231 as Christians continued to grow 
it as happened in Seville when it was conquered by Castile. There 
Christians found 34% of the land dedicated to rice production.
     I think we talked about sugar before. Anyway Maria Teresa Castro 
estimates that Muslims began planting sometime between the reigns of the 
first three Ad la-Raman's, Umayyad rulers (760-961). During the 9th and 
10th centuries it spread in Al-Andalus and areas around Seville 
particularly. By 1150 Granada used 74,000 acres to cultivate it  and 14 
sugar mills.

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