Happy Simnel Day by Charles Perry

Back in the ’70s, when I was working in San Francisco, a shower of foodies arrived from Boston, many of them (such as the renowned Jeremiah Tower) recent graduates of Harvard Architecture School. They were all working through the cookbooks of Elizabeth David and had shopped at Julia Child’s favorite butcher in Boston. I soon…

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Dining Like a Sultan by Charles Perry

When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, a rough nation of warriors decided to settle down a little (though their armies actually kept conquering for another two centuries) and enjoy itself — particularly with food. Culinarily, it inherited traditions from Central Asia (yogurt, the layered bread that eventually became baklava), the Byzantines (a love…

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Major Medieval! by Charles Perry

There’s great big news in Middle Eastern food history. Persian cuisine — the most influential in history, deeply affecting the Arab world, Central Asia and Northern India — is shockingly all but unrecorded. Not a single cookbook has come down to us from before the 16th century. But now two Iranian scholars have just translated…

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