[Sca-cooks] Middle Eastern Food

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 16 00:27:47 PST 2010

Madhavi wrote
>Couldn't the argument be made that Persia is not "Middle Eastern"? The
>food is quite different, the religion is different, the languages are
>different, even the iconography is different...

While it is true that in terms of languages Arabic is Semitic and 
Persian is Indo-European, thus clearly unrelated, the Persians had a 
well developed advanced culture while the Arabs were still eating 
sand... (yes, yes, this is a gross exaggeration for dramatic effect). 
With the development of Muslim Arab culture, especially during the 
'Abbasids, Persia was often seen as a model, for poetry and cuisine 
at the very least.

Quite a few recipes in Arabic-language cookbooks have Persian names 
and, more importantly, Persian origins, although it is unlikely that 
the 'Abbasid recipes are the identical to the Persian originals.

>I have always referred to Persia and central Asia as "Near Eastern"
>specifically to distinguish it from "Middle Eastern" which to me denotes
>Arabic-speaking and Arab-centric cultures.

Hmmm... the terminology is very confused... and confusing. When 
speaking of the *ancient* world (i.e., Before the Current Era), what 
are now Iran and Iraq are often referred to, in archaeology, as The 
Ancient Near East. But when speaking of the Current Era the region 
becomes the Middle East, and the term Near East changes in meaning, 
becoming more nebulous in its references.

That's why i define my, perhaps idiosyncratic, usage. I explain to 
which areas i refer as Near East and why on my website.

>Granted, this may be to underscore my irritation with people describing
>the food, garb, dance, and music of India as "middle eastern", a common
>mistake in the SCA which aggravates me to no end.

Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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