[Sca-cooks] Mishmishiya question

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 24 23:45:43 PDT 2011

This website:
published some info on animal bones excavated from sites in the town 
of Tuneinir in the Kingdom of Sinjar in eastern Syria dating from the 
12th and 13th centuries.
Percentages vary with sites. I am synopsizing here:
-- Sheep/Goats - 72.5% to over 77%
-- Cattle - 9% to almost 13.5%
-- Fowl, including Chickens - only 2.8% in one site and not in others 
(i guess the fowl market was somewhere else on those sites)
-- Pig (yes, pig) - 1.5 to 6.5%
-- Gazelle - 0.2 to 2% (i suppose one could substitute venison for this)
Other animal bones (maybe eaten, but not necessarily eaten) at 1.3% or less:
-- Donkey
-- Horse
-- Camel
-- Dog
-- Cat
-- Fox
-- Lion

Data from a site in Jerusalem, 12th - 14th centuries, showed:
50.9% Sheep/Goat
15.6% Ox/Cattle
11.7% Pig
9.8% Bird (Chicken, Duck, and Pigeon)
1.9% Horse/Donkey
1.9% Dog
1.9% Cat
1.9% Turtle
1.9% Fish
This perhaps reflects a more ethnically and religiously diverse community


Primarily Arabic communities (which would include Arab Christians, 
Muslims, and Jews) differ in eating habits from the Ottoman capital 
and nearby royal cities, for which we have a fair bit of data (we 
have little from Ottoman controlled Anatolia unfortunately). 
Certainly in the areas controlled by the Ottomans with primarily Arab 
populations ate Arabic food. Since this concerns a royal feast, i 
would lean toward palace food, for which we have menus and recipes.

The Ottoman palace ate lamb and chicken (a lot of chicken). That's 
it, except for beef entering the kitchen once a year to make 
bastirma, which apparently was eaten in the palace during Ramadan, 
cooked with sauteed onions.

According to the Bursa Edict of Standards, 1502, the primary meats 
sold in the major cities were sheep and goat. Chickens were sold in 
another market, and were 3 to 4 times more expensive than sheep or 
goat by weight. There was no regulated fish market, as fish were 
eaten almost exclusively by Christians and Jews. Again, beef was rare 
within SCA period -  for a variety of reasons, it became more common 
in the 17th c. - and does not appear in these official regulations.

Now, as someone trying to cook a feast on a budget, you may have to 
make unlikely substitutions. So if you have venison, substitute it 
for sheep. I just think it less likely that Ottoman nobility would be 
eating Mishmishiyya.
Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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