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By Culturekiosque Staff

SEVILLE, SPAIN, 24 MARCH 2008 — In addition to the flowering of art,architecture, music and learning, as well as a degree of religious tolerance that was notable for its time, Islamic rule of Spain (named Al-Andalus by the conquerors) and Moorish culture were  also a  major influence on Spanish cuisine. Almonds, saffron, paprika, peppers and sweets for pastries were among the many ingredients and spices associated with the cuisine of Muslim Spain.

And while Spaniards have been reticent, if not resistant, to celebrate the achievements of Al-Andalus, scholars outside of Spain have long recognized the enlightened contribution of Moorish culture to the more refined aspects of western European culture: table arts and food presentation from Persia, textiles, court manners and etiquette, gastronomy, and taste to name but a few. In some cases, such as food presentation, there had been little change in Europe since the age of Augustus.

Many of these innovations including the three-course meal, the use of crystal rather than metal goblets for drinks at table and the introduction of the asparagus have been attributed to Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Nafi, a.k.a. Ziryab (c. 789—857),a Baghdad-born virtuoso musician (oud, persian lute, singer), theorist and gastronomic chef of mixed race (African-Persian) at the Umayyad court of Abd-ar-Rahman II, Emir of Córdoba (822–852).

A pupil of Ishāq al-Mawsilī, court musician to the Abbassid Caliph of Baghdad, Ziryab also introduced the courts of Andalucía to toothpaste, under-arm deodorant, and the manufacture of demi-saison luxury fabrics and fashion, a significant improvement to the medieval hygiene and style of the Anadalusian courts and thence to Europeans.

Today, thanks in large part to the popularity of the tapas bar in Spain and abroad, Spanish cuisine and wines are  very much in demand with hipsters and informal diners from Sidney to Moscow. As part of next month's Hay Festival (3 - 6 April) at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, travel writer, Hispanist and food critic Michael Jacobs joins food stylist Alicia Ríos, the British chef Sam Clarke, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Jewish food expert Claudia Roden for a discussion on the impact of Moorish culture on Spanish cuisine. The forum discussion, accompanied by simultaneous translation into Spanish, will be followed by a tasting of Al-Andalus-inspired tapas prepared by Andalusian chef Juan Matías del Moral.

Held in the Moorish palaces of Granada, the Guardian Hay Festival of Literature and Arts is a four-day series of events that focuses on Arab - European exchange and is among the largest literary get-togethers in the English-speaking world.

Spanish Cuisine and the Legacy of Al-Andalus
Sunday 6 April 2008 at 13:30 - 14:30
Carmen de los Mártires Palace and Gardens
Granada, Spain
Tel: (34) 915 779 506

The Hay Festival 2008 Web Site


Editor's Travel Calendar Tips:

Abu Dhabi

The Arts of Islam: Treasures from the Nasser D Khalili Collection
On view until 30 April 2008

St. Petersburg, Russia
In Palaces and Tents: The Islamic World from China to Europe
On view at The State Hermitage Museum  through 7 September 2008

External Links

Muslim Heritage: Ziryab

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