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Cyprus-msg – 8/24/06


The culture and food of medieval Cyprus.


NOTE: See also the files: Byzantine-msg, Turkey-msg, Greece-msg, sugar-msg, Cypriot-Sugr-art, p-spice-trade-msg, crusades-msg, Italy-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 10:14:56 +0200

From: Volker Bach <carlton_bach at yahoo.de>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] help for 1250 French/Greek

To: hlaislinn at earthlink.net, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> I was curious if you had any help finding documentation for a potential

> Art/Sci project.  My personna is a French women (originally from Troyes)

> who went on the 7th Crusade (1251) with King Louis as a retainer to

> the Countess of Champaigne and also to assist Margaret (Louis' wife) who

> was pregnant and delivered in Damietta.  My personna ended up marrying a

> gentle who belonged to the Order of Santiago de Compostela and we are in

> charge of running a sugar plantation on the island of Cyprus (probably near

> Paphos).  I would love to serve a luncheon/banquet for the next Art/Sci

> judges that would be completely representative of what I would serve.  I

> have some documentation from Joinville's account that they had wheat,

> barley, rice, cumin and sugar, but not much else.  Any help would be

> greatly appreciated.


This is going to be hard. From what (little) I know of the cuisine of Outremer

it appears that they adopted many traditions of the Mediterranean, but

retained a separate culinary identity. So even if we had a Byzantine cookbook

(Dalby's Flavours of Byzantium contains excerpts from the Goponica and

dietetic texts that are our closest approaches to that), we can not really

be sure that this would reflect what a Latin would eat.


Looking at dietetic texts might help. Several such treatises originated in

Salerno, the Regimen Sanitatis being the most popular, and IIRC the Tacuinum

was also in common circulation by then. That could help you get behind the

idea of what was considered appropriate food, and from there you can look at

what was available on Cyprus (probably a good place for luxury eating, and

for seafood) and go from there.


The closest I can come geographically and temporally is the second half of the

Liber de Coquina, an early 14th century manuscript from Southern italy

compiled from two sources, one French, the other South Italian, and probably

a retranslation from a vernacular original of the 13th century. It shows a

recognisably European cuisine with noticeable Arab influence. It thus looks

like the Anglo-Norman Cookery Books and the Enseignements, though more

northerly, would also make defensible sources for inspiration.


And whatever you do, don't miss the chance to serve honey-sesame or honey-nut

brittle. :-)





Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 11:07:53 +0200

From: "Ana Valdes" <agora158 at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] help for 1250 French/Greek

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


There is a two books about Venetian food and about Istamboul food, but

there are in French. Venise exquise, written by Jean Clausel and

Istamboul la magnifique, written by Artun et Beyhan Unsal. (I guess

Venice, where East and West met, had similar food to Cyprus)

Publisher Robert Laffont.


For all Greek food I should take Siren Feasts, by Andrew Dalby, with

excellent annotations and recipes from the archaic Greece to






Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 14:02:38 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] help for 1250 French/Greek

To: <hlaislinn at earthlink.net>,       "Cooks within the SCA"

        <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


The earliest version of the Viandier was written between 1250 and 1300

predating the Viandier of Tallivent.  It might be a useful source.  One

might also consider the "Regimen sanitatis salerni," "De flore dietarum,"

and the Medieval Arab Cookery that we've been discussing. What is really

needed is information about the culinary tradition of Lusignan Cyprus, but I

don't know of any references.


Since the Seventh Crusade is from 1244 to 1250, I assume the 1251 is

presumed to their point of existence.  I haven't looked at Joinville in

years, but I vaguely remember the mentions of food as things eaten in the

field or, at least, during the Crusade.  For a broader idea of the kinds of

goods and foodstuffs that flowed into the Levant at the time, one should

check the taxes for the Kingdom of Jerusalem

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/taxesjlem.html .


Since running a sugar plantation was one of the most profitable occupations

in the Medieval world, the household would likely have access to more costly

spices and foods than would be common.





Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 15:51:09 -0600

From: James Prescott <prescotj at telusplanet.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] help for 1250 French/Greek

To: hlaislinn at earthlink.net, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


A bit of info.  Richard I of England was married on Cyprus in 1192.

The menu is apparently discussed by George Jeffery in the 1973 book

"Cyprus Under an English King".  Bookfinder.com lists 29 new or used

copies available.


Maria Dembinska comments that the menu bore no relation to either

English or French cooking.  Taro was served.  So, while there were

versions of Viandier prior to Taillevent, they might not be good

sources for a Cypriot menu.


Harleian MS 279 (while dated about 1470) apparently lists "Vyaund de

cyprys bastarde" and some other Cyprus-titled recipes -- but that's

a couple of hundred years later, and from England, so any resemblance

may be entirely coincidental.


The Cypriot king Peter de Lusignan visited Cracow in Poland in 1364,

and Maria Dembinska mentions that he might have brought with him

'soumada' (almond milk for drinking) and 'glygo amygdalou' (a

marzipan).  Spices available especially via Cyprus at that time

included greater and lesser galingale, grains of paradise, labdanum

(an aromatic resin), and "monk's pepper".  And of course plenty of

recipes with sugar.  That's about a century later than your target

date.  Cyprus had a well-established culinary tradition of its own,

and I suspect would have been somewhat conservative about change.


Diners may have used two-tined forks in Cyprus by 1251.





Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2006 15:30:03 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] help for 1250 French/Greek

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


Aislinn wrote:

> I just got a request from a friend, and all I can offer is that maybe Le

> Viandier's recipes came from an earlier book in her time period, and I know

> of no Greek period cookbooks. What do you smart people have to say?


I would not recommend Andrew Dalby's "Siren Feasts" for this person's

needs - it's a great book, but it's about ancient Greece. However, i

would recommend Dalby's "Flavours of Byzantium", since it's about,

well, Byzantium, medieval Greece. Dalby translated all the works

referenced from their original languages. There are no cookbooks, but

there's lots of food info.


Additionally, there is "In a Caliph's Kitchen", which includes some

9th and 10th c. Abbasid recipes which were still popular, and the

13th century "Kitab al-Tabikh" (Book of Dishes) by al-Baghdadi. Quite

a few Europeans in the Near East took on aspects of local culture,

and Europeans often employed local people to do manual labor (and

cooking is manual labor). I transcribed Waines' translations of the

early recipes:



Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org