Friday Finds: Recipes from ‘Scents and Flavors’

Pub Day for the Library of Arabic Literature’s 13th-century Syrian cookbook, Scents and Flavorsis less than a week away, and recipes — along with intructional videos with editor-translator Charles Perry — have begun to appear online:

In his introduction, Perry tells us we know this 635-recipe cookbook, soon to be published in a bilingual edition from the LAL, “was the bestseller of the age, to judge from the fact that more copies of it have survived than of all the other medieval cookbooks combined.”

The committed 13th-century compiler tells us, “I have included nothing without having tested it repeatedly.” These recipes were then tested again by Charles Perry and by the Library of Arabic Literature editors. Although presumably they have found some substitutes as, for instance, for ambergris.

One of the recipes — and instructional videos — posted on the LAL blog is for an “early draft of baklava.” Perry notes it is “not as delicate as filo dough, but it might be worth reviving. Not only is it much easier to make than filo, it has a charming texture of its own, crisp and at the same time a little crumbly.”

Perry’s introduction to another of the recipes is below:


  1. Great to learn of this translation and edition. Will it be affordable is the question. Academic books are usually so expensive!!!

    1. LAL books are far on the reasonable side of academic texts ($30 for this bilingual hardback). I think they’ll also be doing an English-only paperback, and those are generally $14-15.

      The intent — I believe? — is to get these books out into the world, not hide them in a couple hundred academic libraries.

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