Convivencia, February 21, 2004

Disclaimers and Acknowledgements

The cook wishes to make it clear that she is neither Jewish, Moorish nor Iberian by persona or extraction, and while she has done the best she can, there may be many mistakes that others may see. I apologize for any unintential blunders.

Many people have helped minimize the blunders. Especially invaluable has been the advice of Duke Cariadoc of the Bow on matters Andalusian (and his posting of the Perry translation, as well as recipes that he and Betty Cook have worked out in their Miscellany), and of Lady Brighid ni Charain on matters of Christian Spanish cuisine (including her lovely translation of de Nola, and the opportunity to work with her on a Spanish feast), as well as steadfast support. Special thanks to Mistress Jaella of Armida, Master Adamantius, Lady Juliana von Altenfeld, Lady Brangwayna Morgan, Lady Iulania Zafiri and Lady Brighid who looked over the menus, and to Mistress Jaella and Sarah bas Mordechai on Jewish cooking in general.

To all of those who have helped train me in feast cooking, including Lady Juliana, Lady Brighid, Lord Cadoc Macnairi, Lady Iuliana Zafiri, Lady Ellesbeth Donofrey, Mistress Jaella, Lady Ysabeau du St. Wandrielle, Lord John Marshall, much thanks. Portioning advice from Lady Juliana and Lady Brangwayna. Moral support from all of the above, as well as Lady Carowyn Silveroak and Lord Corwin, the talented Lady Johannae Holloway, and my mom, and the lovely folk of Eisental, Silver Rylle, and the SCA-Cooks' list. The feast cooking staff, including Brighid ni Charain, Juliana von Altenfeld, Iuliana Zafiri, Christopher Calhoun, Sarah bas Mordecai, Jacqueline Heise, and others whose names are unknown at this writing. And Olwen the Odd for the marzipan!

The finding of Jewish recipes for the final course has been a definite challenge. The recipes described as "Jewish" in the Anonymous Andalusian manuscript are probably Moorish adaptations of Jewish recipes, but they are at least labelled as Jewish, so we have done the best we can to produce them in a manner suitable to Jewish food (for instance, koshering the internal organs by searing and only using the kosherable internal organs). Since only a handful of recipes labelled Jewish appear in that source, I've had to turn to other sources. While I don't always agree with the interpretations given by the authors of A Drizzle of Honey, it is one of the few published English-language sources for Inquisition reports focusing on alleged crypto-Jewish foodways, and two or three of the dishes are taken from there. As a result, the section of the feast labelled Jewish is really just 'Jewish-style' as interpreted by the Christian and Moorish neighbors of Sephardim. Because all the extant recipes in the Andalusian manuscript labelled as Jewish were for meat dishes, the Jewish course is a 'meat,' as opposed to 'dairy,' course-- Jewish food regulations specify that meat and milk not be served in the same meal.

The process of interpreting extant recipes from before 1600 is always complicated, and when working in recipes that are originally in a foreign language it has further pitfalls. While I hope I have been true to the original intent, certain adaptations have had to be made. In particular, at this time of year it is very difficult to get fresh fennel unless you are buying a whole bulb of Florence fennel, and in most cases I have omitted it. In addition, for recipes where non-specific spices have been called for, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and coriander are the most used spices in Iberian cusine and would be the logical choice. However, in order to avoid endlessly repeating this combination, some changes have been made-- less used spices, such as grains of paradise, cardamom, etc. were substituted.

Incidentally, people have asked me whether food is automatically rendered non-kosher if it is prepared by a Gentile (non-Jew). Modern rules suggest that having a Jew stir the pot or feed the fire is enough to render the food acceptable, but I was interested to find this in an article on Jewish law:

" In the Code of Jewish Law (Shulhan Arukh) the Taz, Rabbi David ben Samuel Halevi, b. 1586, who was an acknowledged orthodox, halakhic authority, and celebrated as the "bearer of arms" of the Halakha, rendered R. Caro's code binding for all Ashkenazim. He ruled that "Lakhen nohaggim hetter po Cracow... v'khen shaar debarim, "granting explicit permission for Jews in Cracow to consume varieties of foods prepared by gentiles using the non-Jew's unhechshered utensils, ovens, and kitchens (Sh. Ar. Y.D. 108:4 s.v. D'zeh Miqarre). Among Sephardic authorities there is an even wider range of permitted foods "cooked by gentiles." Perhaps this pertains to the absence of pork or lard in most Islamic societies (unlike Cracow, Poland). " (from "Changing the Halakha" by Irvin Brandwein, Judaism , Fall, 2001.)

Butter is not common in medieval Iberian cuisine. Cheese, Olive oil, and Schmaltz have been provided instead. Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat-- before the advent of margarine, it was used in place of butter in Jewish 'meat' meals.