Food and Foodways of Medieval Cairenes

Aspects of Life in an Islamic Metropolis of the Eastern Mediterranean


This is a pioneering study which analyzes the food cultures of medieval Cairenes on the basis of a large corpus of historical texts in Arabic. Individual chapters discuss what, why, and how the inhabitants of medieval Cairo ate what they did, and in which ways food shaped their everyday lives. Given the complex nature of “food” and “foodways” as areas of research, the book covers such diverse subjects as the genesis of the culinary culture of Egypt’s capital and various practices related to food and eating. This monograph also considers several relevant social, political and economic circumstances in medieval Cairo, studying food culture in its broader context.
Restricted Access


EUR €217.00USD $292.00

Biographical Note

Paulina B. Lewicka, Ph.D. (2000) in Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Warsaw, teaches at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw. She has published extensively on history and social history of the medieval Near East, particularly of the Mamluk era.

Review Quotes

"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).

Table of contents

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


All those interested in history of daily life, history of the Near East and Mediterranean, medievists, social historians, ethno-historians, food historians and Arabists.


Collection Information