Anissa: Time for a guest post by the great Charles Perry. This time it is about an edible virgin, or to be more precise her breasts. Don’t worry, I am not being prurient and there is nothing obscene about these breasts. As Charles explains, Mediterraneans and Arabs have this habit of calling sweets after charming female attributes. Another example is z’nud el-sitt (lady’s wrists, which are slender rolls made by rolling filo pastry around qashtah, the Arab equivalent of clotted cream). The rolls are then fried and dipped in syrup. Quite delicious as are the medieval virgin’s breasts. By the way, Charles is sorry about the picture not being perfect but I am sure you don’t mind. His entry is, as always, fascinating.
If you are having breakfast in Uzbekistan, you would probably be eating Charles’ scarab pasta but in Morocco you would feast on melwi, an amazing multi-layered bread which is a kind of mille-feuille in that the dough is layered with fat except that the technique is very different. And here, in black & white pictures, is how Bushra, who I worked with in Marrakesh, makes Melwi.
Anissa: Two days ago, it was time for my belly dancer of the month and now it is time for anther brilliant guest post by Charles Perry. It all came about because of this year’s Oxford symposium‘s theme, Wrapped and Stuffed, and when Charles sent me the pictures of the Uzbek mantis you see in this post, not only did I want to have some immediately but I thought the subject would make a great post, so, I asked Charles to send me something about them together with a recipe and here is what he has to say about this delicious looking and sounding breakfast pasta.
Charles: About 15 years ago, I spent a morning in the Nu’mankhojaev household (OK, no more Uzbek surnames from now on) eating mass quantities of potato and pumpkin manti while drinking Georgian and Armenian brandy and watching Caspar, the Friendly Ghost cartoons dubbed in Russian. That’s the sort of breakfast you don’t forget.
Anissa: It has been quite a while since Charles Perry did a guest post here but following a discussion and various questions on twitter about fat tail, I thought I would turn to our chief historian of medieval Arab cookery and ask him to enlighten everyone! Here is what he sent me.
Charles: Europeans and Americans – and Australians, I’m sure – are always amazed when they see the huge tails of Middle Eastern sheep. One of the first to be amazed was Herodotus, who wrote in the 5th century BC that there was a breed in Asia Minor with a tail up to 18 inches wide and another with a tail four and a half feet long. The latter sort, he said, had to be supported by a little cart made for it by the shepherd.