Cooking is a fully legitimate topic for historians, and studies
of the evolution of eating fill entire bookcases. Maria Pia Pedani's new book
lets readers get to know what and how people ate in the times of the Ottoman
Empire. Firstly, the author addresses how Ottoman cuisine emerged and changed
over time, describes its typical ingredients and dishes, explains how it straddles
the Middle Ages and the modern era and exemplifies the "revolutionary" transition
from salty to sweet flavours. Secondly, the author illustrates the social meaning
of Ottoman food, including table manners and its relationship with religion.
Finally, the author also focuses on social differences, the cuisine of the rich
and the poor: what was cooked in the kitchens of the Topkapi, that is, the sultan's
residence; how people ate at imperial and religious feasts; how poor people
made do. Full of vivid descriptions of banquets and recipes, this book offers
the reader an unusual journey into Ottoman culture.
Maria Pia Pedani teaches History of the Ottoman Empire at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice.
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