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Information About Harîsa According To Its Kinds


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

Information about Harîsa According to its Kinds. Harisa is heating, moist, very nutritious, strengthening and fertilizing for dry, thin bodies. It increases blood and sperm, with increased ability in coitus, but makes digestion and good bowel elimination difficult. If one can digest it well, it is beneficial for the person who wishes to strengthen and make good use of his body after ...[words missing]... free of fever and intestinal heaviness. It is good for the thin and those with strong stomachs, especially if they are mild and easy tempered and do not have severe constipation, because mildness and compliance hasten bowel elimination and its effect on fat delays its growth. [Last few words obscure; in the MS a marginal notation reads sic.] It is indicated for emptying the stomach. What is needed for its digestion is to take with it some murri naqî' and ground Chinese cinnamon. If you eat it alone don't mix it with another food, it is more nutritious and easier to digest, and more quick in digestion. It is the custom of the people and they have agreed on eating harîsa made with dough fried in oil. This adds to its heaviness and slowness to digest and leads to constipation, because all the foods that one fries with dough in fat are constipating and are harmful to the liver. Because of this, the zulâ biyya, which is isfunj (the sponge), is the worst that can be eaten and will be its equal. The slowness in digesting it produces a sulfurousness of the kidneys and the harm that it does is more than its benefits. Since one uses wheat and fat in rafîs, in the same way with harisa. With its meat and fat, there is no need for other wheat, but harisa eaten alone is more beneficial and gives more rapid digestion with less harm in all situations.
Among the kinds of harisa that there are, there is one that is made with fat veal or with three-year-old sheep or with breasts or legs of geese and meat from chicken breasts and legs. All these have a flavor and taste that is not like the others and have a virtue that the others do not have. The conditions of harisa are that they be delicious to the palate and have little salt, like the different kinds of rafî's [NB: not rafîs, a different word meaning exquisite] because no salt appears in it. There are those who prefer the harisa with a lot of meat and those who want a moderate amount. The easiest to eat, the most easily evacuated from the body, is that which has two thirds of wheat and one of meat.

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