Food and Foodways of Medieval Cairenes

Aspects of Life in an Islamic Metropolis of the Eastern Mediterranean


This monograph is a pioneering study and reconstruction of the food cultures and menu of medieval Cairenes and their daily practices, customs and habits in relation to food and eating, through the analysis of a large corpus of historical texts in Arabic. Paulina B. Lewicka explains what, why and how the inhabitants of medieval Cairo ate, and how food shaped their everyday lives, against the background of several relevant social, political and economic factors and circumstances.

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Paulina B. Lewicka, PhD (2000) in Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Warsaw, is a professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw. Her research focuses on various aspects of the cultural and social history of the medieval Middle East and, more particularly, the Mamluk and the early Ottoman period, such as interfaith and gender relations, foodways and the medical cultures of Egypt and Syria, including self-treatment manuals in the Arabic language as sources for the study of the social and cultural contexts of the art of medicine in premodern Egypt.
"Lewicka undertook a difficult project in this book, but the result is an excellent book on medieval foodways; her synthesis of previous research and her own original research create a convincing portrait of the foodways of medieval Cairo. Indeed, Lewicka's book is a model of how the historical foodways of a culture can be reconstructed, and this makes her book of interest to anyone who works with foodways, historical foodways, or historical folklife studies more generally." – David Elton Gay, in: Journal of Folklore Research, posted on October 15, 2014.
"The study brings us closer to understanding the food and foodstyle of medieval Cairenes, perhaps as one Middle Eastern urban menu case-study that might enable us to examine other communities in the region and assist in comprehending the culinary history of the Middle East to a wider extent." – Limor Yungman, in: Studia Islamica 110, 122-125 (2015).
"..höchst lesenswerte Studie über Speisen und Essgewohnheiten im mamlukenzeitlichen Kairo. [...] ..ein Grundlagenwerk ersten Ranges, das dieses Thema auf vorbildliche Weise erstmalig aufgearbeitet hat...". – Stephan Conermann, in: sehepunkte 15, Nr. 7/8 (2015).
Introductory Essay: Medieval Cairo and its Inhabitants
Survey of the Sources for the Study of the Medieval Cairene Food Culture

Chapter I. The Cairene Menu: Genesis
Chapter II. The Cairene Menu: Ingredients, Products, and Preparations

Chapter III. The Place to Eat
Chapter IV. Sharing the Table

Chapter V. Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Chapter VI. Alcohol and Its Consumption in Medieval Cairo

Primary Arabic sources: texts and translations
Non-Arabic primary sources: texts and translations
Secondary literature
Medievalists, social historians, ethnohistorians, food historians, arabists, and all those interested in the history of everyday life in the Middle East and the Mediterranean and in historical folklife studies.
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