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Boola Boola holiday recipes from Babylonia

December 23, 2011

Yale University Library has a holiday e-card for you with recipes (page 1, page 2).



Here is the text from the card:

Happy Holidays & warm wishes from the Yale University Library

This tablet from the Yale Babylonian Collection (YBC 4644), measuring 164 x 118 x 33 mm, includes twenty-five recipes for stews and soups.  Twenty-one are meat stews, four are vegetable stews.  Clearly meant for experienced chefs, the recipes list the ingredients and the order in which they should be added, but do not give measures or cooking time.  These dishes were prepared for special occasions, either for the table of the gods (who were fed three times a day) or for rulers’ fancy banquets.  This tablet, and two additional Old Babylonian culinary tablets, were accessioned in December 1933 but may have arrived at Yale in the 1920s.  They were originally thought to contain medicinal recipes, until Professor Jean Bottero read them in the 1960s and realized they contained recipes for cooking rather than medicinal instructions.

Recipe #17 Amursanu-pigeon stew:  Split the pigeon in half, add other meat.  Prepare the water, add fat and salt to taste, breadcrumbs, onion , samidu, leeks, and garlic (first soak the herbs in milk).  When it is cooked, it is ready to serve.

Unfortunately, my local grocery store is out of samidu (although People magazine says “Don’t feel too bad about not finding them. Most Babylonians couldn’t get them either.”)  If you’d like more information on the recipes, they are discussed in Gwendolyn Leick’s The Babylonian World.

(But please note Julia Child’s comments on the recipes:  “They must have had strong stomachs.”  It is not clear to me whether Child was referring to the Babylonians or the Yalies.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 23, 2011 7:04 pm

    Yes, I want the link … seems to be broken. My new stove is finally installed!

  2. December 23, 2011 7:15 pm

    Sorry, the link to Leick’s book should now work — an editing error.

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