Food

Sep. 18th, 2009 09:03 am
aemilia: (Default)
[personal profile] aemilia
Wheat, barley, bulgar, oats and beans are the staples of the Edessan diet and for the poorer classes, that would be about it. The merchant and aristocratic classes, however, enjoy a wide array of foods and imported spices. Most meals are eaten with an unleavened flat bread -- closer to crepes or Ethiopian injera than to pita. It's made of wheat or barley flour, left to ferment over nights, which gives it a tangy, sour flavor and somewhat spongy texture. They don't use forks, instead scooping up food with pieces of bread. Bowls of water are kept at the table to wash hands before and after meals.

At breakfast Edessans might eat yogurt, bread, fruit, cheese, sweet porridge with honey or hearty porridge with meat and salt. A black tea, brewed strong and bitter is drunk without sweetener or cream. Edessans swear the tea lengthens life, improves libido, and cures acne. Needless to say, the stuff is extremely caffeinated.

The main meal of the day is lunch, which begins at the start of the fifth hora and can take the better part of two hours, and is followed by a lengthy nap. It’s usually the only meal at which meat is served. Edessans don’t eat a lot of meat but do consume goat, chicken, beef, mutton and wild game. They eat more fish than red meat, since it's more readily available. There isn't much room in the city itself to raise livestock, so all meat is imported from the surrounding countryside.

A typical noonday meal in House Iereus might include:
  • Flat bread
  • Pureed lentils with cayenne, salt, and saffron
  • A dip of cheese, spinach and garlic
  • A salad of cucumber, onion, olives, dill, parsley, chickpeas, and lemon juice
  • Shredded beef with cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, salt, black pepper, yogurt, olive oil
  • A pie filled with baked pear, dates, apple and walnut, and a type of custard between layers of flaky dough
  • Cheese rolls: a piece of flat bread rolled into a cylinder filled with cheese and spices and then fried (extremely delicious)
  • Grapes, melon, and other fruit
  • Watered wine, tea, assorted juices

Mint is chewed after meals to combat bad breath. To be honest, it doesn't help all that much.

Supper is usually served cold, especially during the summer months. Cold soups are popular; the Edessans are particularly fond of a fish soup made the night before and left to sit. A foreign dignitary once wrote a letter home describing the soup as “a disgusting concoction; the fat congeals on the surface like an oily skin, and the stuff tastes like over-salted death.” I guess it’s an acquired taste.

Edessans don’t really do dessert; they prefer savory to sweet. They do use honey, their only sweetener, usually most served with yogurt or fruit or used to glaze baked goods.

---

Recipe: Spicy Lentils

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 c lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp of cayenne (depending on how brave you are)
4 c water
  1. In a medium saucepan, soak lentils for one hour in three cups of the water.
  2. Bring the lentils and water to boil and cook until the lentils are soft, adding more water if necessary. Drain off any extra water and mash.
  3. In a sauce pan, saute onion, garlic, and spices. Add the mashed lentils. Stir well.
  4. Add the remaining cup of water (or less, pour slowly) and cook for 3-4 more minutes more to reduce the mixture to a thick, well spiced puree.
  5. Serve warm with bread.

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