[Sca-cooks] groundnuts (N o - pls), continued - horchata (Lilinah)

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Fri Oct 12 18:18:24 PDT 2007

> I was re-reading the Anonymous Andalusian . . . and i noticed a beverage recipe 
> that calls for "silk almonds" and i've been wondering since before i 
> read Devra's post if the plant mentioned above might be what the 
> recipe is asking for.
I going to put into [] to show what Huici says in his translation of the 
> Here's the Recipe, including Charles Perry's footnote:
> 11. Syrup of Harir [ftn 1: a warm drink imbibed at sunset to break Ramadam in Fez]: Way of Making It
> Take the almonds of silk [214] and extract from them the small seeds after removing their hearts, four ratls [Take the milk extracted from almond grains after removing the heart, 4 lbs]. Then divide almonds [almond] and clean the dirt from them [it], wash them [it] very well in cold water until softened, and drain the water. Then take water out of a river 
> oriented Eastward; heat polished steel and cool it in this water until the water is reduced by half and changes color. Cook the harir in this water until its substance comes out; press it, and add to the water three ratls [lbs]of honey, cleaned of its [skim off] foam. The bag: half an uqiya [1/2 oz] each of cinnamon and cloves, an uqiya [1 oz] of ginger, an uqiya [1 oz]each of cubebs [kababa, ftn 2 pepper from China. In Fez a dish of kabab is made], long pepper and galingale [heath]. Then pound roots and put them in a bag, which is then tied with a strong thread and added to the honey and the clean part. Put it on the fire and cook it until a syrup is made. Drink two uqiyas [ozs ]of this with three of hot water. It profits in the lack of urine, and increases desire well; it dissolves 
> the fat from all parts of the body and heats it well, God willing, by its generosity and virtue.
> [214] "harir" means silk; is this a recipe for seeds of the mulberry, 
> on whose leaves silkworms feed?(CP)  
    In the first sentence I think Huici is saying after shelling and 
skinning almond to make almond milk with the fruit/nut. Where is the 
'heart' in nuts? - that sounds like nuts to me. Now taking into account 
that Huici died at the age of 93 in 1973 and was Chair of  the Ancient 
and Medieval History Department at the Insitituto Luis Vives in 
Valencia, I doubt that he ever knew where the kitchen was in his house 
so he must be excused about not knowing the difference between the meat 
and the "heart" of a nut. My non-religious daughter made a similar 
mistake when translating the Spanish wedding mass of a first cousin into 
English for British groom and the family who came to Valencia for the 
event. She said something about the 'the meat' and turned purple red 
when a Spaniard shouted from the congregation, 'the flesh'. She raised 
her hands in dismay, turned to me laughing and attempted to cross her 
eyebrows to try to seriously exclaim, "Mom where were you?" -  Thank 
heavens she did make anymore mistakes cause my husband, son and I were 
rolling in our pew in laughter! (You must try wedding ceremonies with 
meat not flesh from now on they are much more entertaining.)
    The "harir" sounds like a very distant cousin of harira which we 
traditionally drink at sunset in Morocco from the day we first went 
there to today during Ramadan at sunset to break the fast which is very 
rich with noodles, chicken or lamb and heaven knows what else but all we 
have tasted is delicious even at truck stops on the roads of the Atlas 
Mountains without even mentioning that served in friends' homes. 
Lilanah, were you reading my mind or I yours last night when I made big 
batch of harira before reading your message? I thought it was wonderful 
when I tasted it hot in the pot but doggone today I don't like it. I 
forgot the peppercorns, dang it! - the only ingredient harira might have 
in common with "harir".
    -Could 'harir' be an horchata?- you ask. Horchata was made with 
almond milk in Castile in the 15th century but not in Al Andalus between 
the 12th - 15th. Hispano-Muslims always used the chufa nut or whatever 
you call it (please, please chufas are not groundnuts, neither is a nut. 
Both are tubers - that's all they have in common.) Traditionally 
horchata is always served cold and is a summer time refreshing, 
refreshing, refreshment while harira is warm, warm even when Ramadan 
hits during summer months which is perhaps the only thing that connects 
this recipe with it, plus that dagon pepper. Finally, I have never seen 
an horchata recipe with honey or a harira one calling for that either.
    Taking into account that eating was medicine, eating was done to 
promote good digestion and all that as seen in these medieval 
manuscripts we study, harir or harira could mean 'silken' the way for 
good digestion and therefore good health. I certainly feel that when I 
drink harira which is so wholesome.
    This brings us back to the cycle of historical alimentation. 
Medieval menus are based on organic food contrasted with gluttony. I 
pass from the 'fast food' seen in our Spanish literature from the 
Archiprest of Hita to Don Quijote to fast food sold on medieval streets 
like your pies in England to fish and chips today, contrasted with 
skinny 'bitches' like myself and my daughter who have to buy childrens' 
clothing cause we only want organic stuff as we don't like junk food by 
my favorite king is Henry IV of Castile, older brother of Isabel of 
Castile, who lived in a saddle for 20 years as king, so when he could, 
he devoured sausages without peeling the skins so he died of ulcers .  . 
. and an American cousin who weighs ??? - no thanks to Mac D.  Food for 

P.S. My dear Lilinah, don't prance around the mulberry tree any more. 
Your silk is not there.

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