The Abbasid Caliphate's Pickles

The Abbasid caliphate (750-1258) and its associated "golden age of Islam" is famous for a range of achievements in science, literature, and culture. The preservations and translations of ancient Greek texts to Arabic and the flow of discussion, philosophy, the merging of Persian, Greek and Arabic thought with Islam the countless inventions and new paths in science, mathematics and astronomy. All these are more or less known widely. Huge achievements. A mass of ancient texts were preserved for our eyes thanks to Persian scientists.

But what about...Pickles?! What do we know about this superb condiment I say?!!?

Well let's try and get a sense of place and a starting point to our story!

Baghdad was founded in 762 as The City of Peace.

The Abbasid empire stretched from the edges of India to the borders of Europe. Baghdad was the heart of the Islamic world and the centre of political rule. It was also the centre of the Translation Movement, when scholars from around the world came together at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, translating ancient Greek and Roman texts on subjects like algebra, medicine, and astronomy. Music, poetry and art flourished. The society of the Abbasid Caliphate was diverse and open. Think of it a little bit like the “Citadel” in Game of Thrones.

As a Metropolis of a vast empire, Baghdad it was a sprawling city with houses of main thoroughfares, connected by narrow, winding and shade-giving streets; all within earshot of the local mosque. Business and trade were kept to the main streets and public squares, bustling and noisy with its food stalls and many other traders. Gardens both public and private, were an imitation of paradise with attention and care to details. Huge water-raising machines could be seen pumping water from rivers into the fields and to the cities and houses.

In this hugely influential cultural city al-Baghdadi was born in 1239AD. He was a scribe, and was a compiler of an early Arabic cookbook of the Abbasid period, The Book of Dishes. Originally with 160 recipes but later 260 more were added.

Thank you and see you soon!

Music by Pavlos Kapralos and Motion Array (Arabian Nights, Barren Sands)

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