Insatiable Appetite: Food as Cultural Signifier in the Middle East and Beyond


Insatiable Appetite: Food as Cultural Signifier in the Middle East and Beyond explores the cultural ramifications of food and foodways in the Mediterranean, and Arab-Muslim countries in particular. The volume addresses the cultural meanings of food from a wider chronological scope, from antiquity to present, adopting approaches from various disciplines, including classical Greek philology, Arabic literature, Islamic studies, anthropology, and history. The contributions to the book are structured around six thematic parts, ranging in focus from social status to religious prohibitions, gender issues, intoxicants, vegetarianism, and management of scarcity.

Contributors are: Tarek Abu Hussein, Yasmin Amin, Kevin Blankinship, Tylor Brand, Kirill Dmitriev, Eric Dursteler, Anny Gaul, Julia Hauser, Christian Junge, Danilo Marino, Pedro Martins, Karen Moukheiber, Christian Saßmannshausen, Shaheed Tayob, and Lola Wilhelm.

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Kirill Dmitriev is lecturer in Arabic at the University of St Andrews, UK. His primary research focuses on the study of classical Arabic language and literature, the religious history of the Arab world, and comparative literature. He is the author of Das poetische Werk des Abū Sahr al-Hudalī, Eine literatur-anthropologische Studie (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008), co-editor of the volume Religious Culture in Late Antique Arabia, Selected Studies on the Late Antique Religious Mind (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, Islamic history and thought 6, 2017), and convener of the collaborative research initiative Khamriyya as a World Poetic Genre: Comparative Perspectives on Wine Poetry in Near and Middle Eastern Literatures.

Julia Hauser is assistant professor of global history and the history of globalization processes at the University of Kassel. She is currently working on an entangled history of vegetarianism. Her work has been supported by grants from the German Research Association, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Deutsche Morgenländische Gemeinschaft, and the Max Weber Foundation. She is the author of German Religious Women in Late Ottoman Beirut: Competing Missions, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2015, and co-editor, with Christine Lindner and Esther Möller, of Entangled Education: Foreign and Local Schools in Ottoman Syria and Mandate Lebanon (19th-20th centuries), Würzburg: Ergon, 2016. Julia Hauser is a member of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA).

Bilal Orfali is associate professor of Arabic Studies at the American University of Beirut. He specializes in Arabic literature, Sufism, and Qurʾanic Studies. He co-edits al-Abhath Journal, and Brill’s book series Texts and Studies on the Qurʾan. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books on a broad range of subjects relevant to Arabic and Islamic Studies.

“This text ultimately excels in approaching an often misunderstood region from a novel perspective, providing fresh insights into old questions, and is recommended for scholars and graduate students working on the history or anthropology of food, or interested in alternative histories of the Mediterranean, Ottoman, Arab, and Islamic worlds.”

J. Alkorani, University of Toronto in: CHOICE connect, Volume 57, No.9 (2020).

“Sollte das Genre der kulturwissenschaftlichen kulinarischen Erforschung in nächster Zeit noch weiter blühen – ich sehe keine gegenteiligen Tendenzen – werden sich zukünftig dafür Interessierte aus dem Band Insatiable Appetite viele fruchtbare Anregungen holen können.“

Bert G. Fragner, The Institute of Iranian studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, Volume 111 (2021).
Notes on Contributors


Part 1
Food and Social Status

Social Dining, Banqueting, and the Cultivation of a Coherent Social Identity
The Case of Damascene ʿUlamaʾ in the Late Mamluk and Early Ottoman Period
Tarek Abu Hussein

Eating Up
Food Consumption and Social Status in Late Ottoman Greater Syria
Christian Saßmannshause

Part 2
Prohibitions and Prescriptions from Classical Islam to the Present

Peeling Onions, Layer by Layer
A Journey with Two Bulbs through the Islamicate World and Its Literature
Yasmin Amin

Beyond Ḥalāl
The Dos and Don’ts of Syrian Medieval Cookery in a Twelfth-Century Market Inspector Manual
Karen Moukheiber

Molecular Halal
Producing, Debating, and Evading Halal Certification in South Africa
Shaheed Tayob

Part 3
Food, Gender, and the Body in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Food, Happiness, and the Egyptian Kitchen (1900–1952)
Anny Gaul

Food, Body, Society
al-Shidyāq’s Somatic Experience of Nineteenth-Century Communities
Christian Junge

Part 4
Intoxication: Wine and Hashish in Literary Sources and Beyond

The Symbolism of Wine in Early Arabic Love Poetry
Observations on the Poetry of Abū Ṣakhr al-Hudhalī
Kirill Dmitriev

Hashish and Food
Arabic and European Medieval Dreams of Edible Paradises
Danilo Marino
The “Abominable Pig” and the “Mother of All Vices”
Pork, Wine, and the Culinary Clash of Civilizations in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Eric Dursteler

Part 5
Abstention: Vegetarianism in the Mediterranean and Europe from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century

An Ontological Dispute in the Writings of Porphyry of Tyre
The Discussion of Meat Eating as a Battlefield for Competing Worldviews in Antiquity
Pedro Ribeiro Martins

The Missionary and the Heretic
Debating Veganism in the Medieval Islamic World
Kevin Blankinship

A Frugal Crescent
Perceptions of Foodways in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Vegetarian Discourse
Julia Hauser

Part 6
Managing Scarcity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Some Eat to Remember, Some to Forget
Starving, Eating, and Coping in the Syrian Famine of World War I
Tylor Brand

Local Histories of International Food-Aid Policies from the Interwar Period to the 1960s
The World Food Programme in the Middle East
Lola Wilhelm

All interested in global cultural history; Food Studies; Middle Eastern, Arabic and Islamic Studies.
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