[Sca-cooks] History of the "stew" that is Chili (lilinah at earthlink.net)

galefridus at optimum.net galefridus at optimum.net
Mon Mar 21 12:04:02 PDT 2011

My wife has done some investigations into the history of cholent and may have something helpful to contribute on this matter.  I'm cc'ing her on this message -- either she'll get back to you directly, or I'll forward her comments to this list.

-- Galefridus

> 1. History of the "stew" that is Chili (lilinah at earthlink.net)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> -----
> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2011 11:45:23 -0700
> From: lilinah at earthlink.net
> To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
> Subject: [Sca-cooks] History of the "stew" that is Chili
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> Anyone know the history of chili, the American dish of beans 
> and/or 
> meat, tomatoes, chili pepper, etc.? On another SCA list i am on, 
> someone is claiming that it derives from Jewish adafina/dafina/tafina
> The closest SCA period recipe i know of for adafina (without 
> that 
> name) is in the anonymous 13th c. cookbook where it is 
> identified as 
> Jewish
> [http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Andalusian/andalusian2.htm#Heading116]
> A Stuffed, Buried Jewish Dish
> Pound some meat cut round, and be careful that there be no bones 
> in 
> it. Put it in a pot and throw in all the spices except cumin, 
> four 
> spoonfuls of oil, two spoonfuls of penetrating rosewater, a 
> little 
> onion juice, a little water and salt, and veil it with a thick 
> cloth. 
> Put it on a moderate fire and cook it with care. Pound meat as 
> for 
> meatballs, season it and make little meatballs and throw them 
> [p. 21, 
> recto] in the pot until they are done. When everything is done, 
> beat 
> five eggs with salt, pepper, and cinnamon; make a thin layer [a 
> flat 
> omelette or egg crepe; literally "a tajine"] of this in a frying 
> pan, 
> and beat five more eggs with what will make another thin layer. 
> Then 
> take a new pot and put in a spoonful of oil and boil it a 
> little, put 
> in the bottom one of the two layers, pour the meat onto it, and 
> cover 
> with the other layer. Then beat three eggs with a little white 
> flour, 
> pepper, cinnamon, and some rosewater with the rest of the 
> pounded 
> meat, and put this over the top of the pot. Then cover it with a 
> potsherd of fire until it is browned, and be careful that it 
> not 
> burn. Then break the pot and put the whole mass on a dish, and 
> cover 
> it with "eyes" of mint, pistachios and pine-nuts, and add 
> spices. You 
> might put on this dish all that has been indicated, and leave 
> out the 
> rosewater and replace it with a spoonful of juice of cilantro 
> pounded 
> with onion, and half a spoonful of murri naqi'; put in it all 
> that 
> was put in the first, God, the Most High, willing.
> Comments in [square brackets] from the translator, Charles 
> Perry, who noted:
> A version of adafina (from an Arabic word meaning "buried 
> treasure," 
> related to the word madfun, "buried," which is found in the name 
> of 
> this dish), the Sephardic equivalent of the Ashkenazi dish 
> cholent, 
> which could be left in the oven overnight on Friday so that 
> Jewish 
> housewives wouldn't have to violate the Sabbath by cooking.
> -------
> Nothing like chili (surprise, surprise) and not much like modern 
> adafina (North African) recipes i know or variations called 
> Hameen/Chamin (Middle Eastern) and Cholent (Ashkenazi, north 
> eastern 
> Europe), depending on region. Each of the three dishes is 
> basically a 
> hearty filling stew, prepped on Friday before Shabbat starts at 
> sundown. Since a fire cannot be kindled on Shabbat, and food 
> cannot 
> be cooked during Shabbat in the usual ways, this dish was 
> traditionally put in a baker's oven and cooked slowly in the 
> residual 
> heat and eaten on Saturday for lunch. (Shabbat ends Saturday at 
> sundown, when the new day starts, according to the Jewish 
> calendar). 
> Nowadays, some people use crock pots with timers.
> Most of the modern adafina recipes i turned up include rice, 
> onions, 
> meat, and spices (no beans); sometimes dried fruit; sometimes 
> those 
> eggs slow cooked overnight in their shells.
> The Hameen/Chamin recipes also used rice, no beans.
> Ashkenazi Cholent recipes i found often included(New World) 
> beans, 
> along with meat and onions, although some used potato, others 
> used 
> barley, and yet others included two or all three of those 
> filling 
> carbs.
> So, is there a chili equivalent early on, before New World beans 
> made 
> it to northern and eastern Europe?
> -- 
> Ellen
> on the cusp of Oakland-Emeryville-Berkeley

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