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I Have Thought To Mention What Makes Food Agreeable And Improves The Preparation

This is an excerpt from An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
(Andalusia, 13th c. - Charles Perry, trans.)
The original source can be found at David Friedman's website

I have thought to mention what makes food agreeable and improves the preparation. I divide it into three parts, as the learned order them. I say that the first, which is necessary to start in the culinary art, is the care to avoid dirt and decay, and to clean the utensils used for cooking, in cleaning the kitchen. Many people say that the best part of food is what the eye does not see; but this is not so, for the best of foods is that which the palate has observed, the eye has seen, and a person trusted to know the truth has made sure of. He who works as a cook, after having finished his work, may neither think nor worry about how he has done, for he thinks the end desired of him is quickness in finishing and departing, but he does not see fit to remember his little care and poor presentation and how necessary it is to be vigilant against them. These conditions are what has led many caliphs and kings to order the cooking done in their presence; and necessity has led some to cook what they eat for themselves, so far as to prepare the kitchen, and to write many books on the subject. Among these are Ahmad Ibn al-Mu'tasim, Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi, Yahya b. Khalid, al-Mu'tamid and 'Abd Allah b. Talha, and besides these, scholars, judges, secretaries, viziers, and notables.


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