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With access to the finest ingredients grown or produced in their vast, fertile lands, and exotic spices brought by ship and caravan via the spice routes from Egypt and India, Ottoman chefs could give full play to their creative talents. Typical of the palaces where such lavish meals were enjoyed was the Topkapi in Istanbul, one of the major residences of the Sultans for almost years — of their year reign.
As well as being a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a museum and a major tourist attraction. On this, my third visit, I focused mostly on the kitchens, which give a fascinating inside view of the elaborate production process that resulted in day-to-day meals and special occasion feasts.
Remodelled by the famous court architect Mimar Sinan after the original structures were burned down in , the Saray Mufaklari palace kitchens consist of ten domed buildings, and include separate sections for such items as soups, desserts, jams and sherbets, beverages and confectionary; also a pantry which today houses the archives. Meals had to be produced on a daily basis for all the 4, or so inhabitants of the palace, who included the Sultan, his harem, his administrators and servants.
As I admired the immense collection of Chinese blue and white, celadon and Japanese Imari porcelain that was transported over the Silk Road or by sea, I wondered in amazement how they ever reached their destination intact, with not a chip or crack in sight! Dolmabahce Palace The day concluded with a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace, across the Bosphorus, a blue-green stretch of water that turned into shimmering gold in the late afternoon sun.
By the 19th century, the reigning Sultan Abdujmecid had become enamoured of all things European and had moved his household to this European-style residence. The feasting continued here, but from now on, European-style tables and manners became au courant. Watching the sunset over the Bosphorus, I imagined the sun setting over the Ottoman Empire, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who spent his last days and ate his last, presumably more modest, meals at this palace — established the Turkish republic in The latest health trend, favoured by celebrities and sports personalities alike - is coconut water all it's cracked up to be?
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut, which is usually about the size of a basketball. Ideally, young coconuts are harvested between five and seven months of age, which is when they contain the most water. A drink that has been favoured by Brazilians, Indians and Asians for years, coconut water is now widely available in places where the coconut palm doesn't grow-such as the UK and the US, thanks to it being packaged, shipped and readily available.
Coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste and is a naturally refreshing thirst-quencher. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes-perhaps why sportsmen and women favour it, as electrolytes and sugars need to be replaced after periods of exercise.
We explore some of the other possible health benefits of coconut water. People who suffer from migraines often have low levels of magnesium, and as coconut water has high levels of magnesium it can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. SKIN TONIC If you suffer from acne or other blemishes, coconut water can help to tone the skin-simply apply a small amount of coconut water on a cotton wool pad and sweep over the skin.
Victoria Secret supermodel Adriana Lima told The Cutthat she uses icecold coconut water on her skin as a treat. Coconut water has been offered to patients with sickness and diarrhoea in tropical regions, in order to quickly rehydrate and replace excess fluid loss from the gastrointestinal tract, therefore reducing the need for hospitalisation.
During rigorous exercise or long periods of physical activities, our bodies lose essential electrolytes potassium, sodium, chloride and bicabornate. Coconut water is an excellent source of replenishing these electrolytes, with an average of mg of potassium, mg of sodium and 5 mg of natural sugar per glass, whereas most sport drinks contain only half this potassium and five times the amount of processed sugar.
It is now widely accepted that farming began in North China roughly concomitant with the rise of the Cishan—Peiligang culture in eastern Henan and southern Hebei with sites dated mostly between and BC. But scholars have not agreed on how to fit assemblage into the general chain of evolution before the coming of the firmly established agricultural economy.
The settlements of the Cishan—Peiligang culture are normally small, measuring about 1—2 ha, never exceeding 6 ha, with features such as simple subterranean dwelling structures and storage pits.
Pottery types are simple and three-legged bowls and jars are common, fired at a relatively high temperature; surface treatments are rare but may feature loose card impressions. At the Cishan site in Hebei, 80 of the ash pits yielded remains of grain and the charcoal samples were determined to have beenmillet.
At the Peiligang site in Henan, charcoal samples of millet were also excavated. These findings suggest that the Cishan—Peiligang culture represents a widely existing first stage of cultural development in Yellow River valley.
They also suggest that farming and sedentary life had already become widespread in North China in the seventh to sixth millennia BC and that millet was the staple crop under cultivation by early communities of village-dwellers. A recently reported site is Jiahu in southern Henan, measuring 5. However, in a chunk of burnt earth, impressions of ten grains of rice were discovered, securely dated to — BC. The discovery revealed an alternative food strategy available to the Cishan—Peiligang communities, but it also raises the question about the region where rice was first domesticated.
At the same site, archaeologists also discovered the earliest tortoiseshell most likely used for divination purposes, inscribed with two insolated graphs. It had been thought for a long time that rice was domesticated and cultivated first in South China, centering on certain sites located near the Hangzhou Bay, dating around BC roughly contemporary to the Yangshao culture in the north , and easily predating South Asia, the other center for rice cultivation in the ancient world, by at least 2, years.
It took at least the same length of time for the rice agriculture that originated in South China to reach the Korean Peninsula in the north and Southeast Asia in the south.
However, recent discoveries have pushed the date of rice domestication far back by at least two millennia, pointing to the inland basins along the Yangzi River.
In two early Neolithic sites in Hunan Province, carbon dated to — BC, charcoal remains of rice have been found either in pottery bodies, or in a large quantity of as many as 15, grains in a section of a moat surrounding what was probably the earliest defense wall in China.
In recent years, archaeologists have also made efforts to understand the process by which pottery-making technology was invented in China. In the excavation of the cave site at Zengpiyan in Guangxi, archaeologists were able to define a sequence of strata in which early pottery remains were identified.
From the period I stratum, dated to 12,—11, BP, were found a few coarsely made and thick shards, fired at a low temperature.
From period II, dated to 11,—10, BP c. Although the subsistence pattern of the Zengpiyan society was likely to have been based on fishing and gathering, the findings offer good lessons as to how pottery-making was developed from its infancy, perhaps in a stage even earlier than in North China. NOTES 10 In archaeology, the name of a non-literate culture is usually derived from the site where its remains were first identified. But sometimes variations do occur when a culture is renamed after its most representative, and usually most prominent site.
The carbon dating method was developed by Willard F. Libby in at the University of Chicago. Carbon is one of the carbon isotopes. It exists in all living organisms at an even level and decreases at a constant rate half of the amount of the radioisotope at any given time will be lost in the succeeding 5, years after the organism dies. By measuring the amount of carbon that still remains, the age of the organism can be determined.
Carbon dating was introduced to China in the s, and is now widely used in Chinese archaeology. Blackwell, , pp. There is a distinctive feminine type we recognize at once as medieval. We see her face, her figure, in stone and wood in innumerable churches. We see her in miniatures and tapestries.
Not until the fifteenth century does she begin to make a few shy appearances in the nude, in the role of Eve or as a saint undergoing martyrdom. The ideal medieval woman was small and slim. Her breasts were high, small, and firm; her skin pearly white.
She was extremely trim and well coordinated, with every fold and layer of her clothing carefully adjusted, her hair confined under a headdress. She seems to have favored a particular posture — weight slightly forward, knees slightly bent.
She certainly was not taught to stand tall, to hold up her shoulders, to draw in her abdominal muscles, or to move provocatively. Her body language implied rather a certain meekness and vulnerability. A high and rounded forehead was admired. Again, this was a child-like characteristic and perhaps referred back to a specific racial type. At any rate, one sees such foreheads often in Gothic stone carvings, in men and angels as well as in women.
For those who did not have such high-domed brows, the effect could be partly achieved by concealing all her hair under a tight headband. Women also plucked and shaved their temples to produce that ovoid line. The fashionable clothing of the time — tight bodices, drooping sleeves, and towering headdresses — greatly restricted movement. They maintained their slenderness by eating sparingly. Moreover, the religious life of ladies called for a good deal of fasting.
Thus, piety and slimness went together. Strict observation of religious practices was part of aristocratic manners. Nevertheless, a good deal of this was merely for show. Girls who were too devout were headed for the cloister. For social life, something less austere was wanted, but even there, demeanor was highly controlled. The peasantry, ruled by different necessities, had a different view of what constituted the ideal woman. Of course, a pretty face and a pleasant disposition would not have gone unappreciated among rustics also.
The folk tales that reveal so much of the psychic life of medieval common people repeatedly sound the theme of the good and beautiful peasant girl who is elevated to the nobility. But sturdiness and industry counted for more than social graces. A mature peasant woman was a pretty earthy creature with few sexual inhibitions and a sharp sense of the value of a penny. She did not seem to care much what she looked like.
Heavy work, coarse food, and close quarters gave little encouragement to female narcissism. She was often the dominant figure in the family. Again, we know this from folk tales with a gallery of strong woman characters. The bourgeois woman, as she ascended to the higher levels of her class, modeled herself increasingly on women of the nobility.
Yet there were significant distinctions between them in style and outlook. Aristocratic artifices, refinements, and subtleties ran counter to the bourgeois spirit. The Ménagier certainly was not one to lose sight of his middling station.
He constantly cautions his young wife on this point. Nevertheless, he cannot himself resist aping his betters to some extent. After all, doing things right means following the usages of the best circles of society.
And he has married somewhat above himself; his bridge is a girl indulged and used to idleness quite on the aristocratic pattern. It is our good fortune that he felt obliged to write down everything she had to know about her future duties. As the wife of a prosperous bourgeois, she was not expected to do the housework, but only to supervise her servants.
Even here, she could count on help. The Ménagier had a Master Jehan who acted as steward, did the shopping, and hired, fired, and directed men servants. There was also an elderly housekeeper, Dame Agnes, who belonged to the order of the Beguines. Although there was no lack of people eager for jobs, servants were hard to manage. Those who came for a single day, like porters, wheel-barrow men, and agricultural laborers, tended to be independent and short-tempered. At pay time, they often broke out into shouting and foul language.
The prosperous man had an instinctive mistrust of the lower classes. Here, at the end of the fourteenth century, we already have the convictions that underlay the so-called Protestant ethic. Still, with good examples and no laxity, and if assigned enough work so that they could fill the day and honestly earn their wages, servants could be taught decent behavior. The saying went that he who had good servants had peace and he who had grumblers laid up sorrow for himself. Before domestics were hired, careful inquiries were made of their previous masters.
Maidservants between fifteen and twenty had to be specially supervised. They were taught how to extinguish their bedtime candle properly, by blowing it out or snuffing the flame with two fingers, not with their skirts. Back home, these country girls had neither candles nor nightshirts.
The mistress inspected the wines to be sure none disappeared during the night. She gave the servants their instructions for morning and saw that the hearth fires were banked with ashes. The household woke early. In town, the bell of the nearest church pealed for prime. Servants were up quickly and at their morning duties — fires had to be started, water drawn, stable cleaned, horses fed, the street around the entrance swept.
The maids dusted the hallway, beat out cushions and mats. In the course of the day, they would work their way all around the house, cleaning every room. They made up beds with the help of a bed staff, a stout club for smoothing the heavy linen sheets.
They had twig brooms and sponges, pails, water, and sand. Crude soap could be made from ashes and lye for hard-to-clean places. One aspect of housekeeping was time-consuming and frustrating. This was the fight against vermin. Fleas lurked in the folds of woolen clothes and in the bedding. The multiplicity of prescriptions against them indicates that there was no definitive way to get rid of them.
White woolen cloths were spread to attract the fleas: The black specks could then be seen, caught, and destroyed. Alder leaves strewn in the bedroom were also said to attract the insects. The airing and beating of textiles were major tasks for the maidservants. In better homes, a small room was provided, a garde-robe, where all the family textiles could be stored and presumably sealed away from infestation.
Woolen clothes were infrequently cleaned, but then the quality of the wool was so good that such clothes largely resisted soil. An excellent cleanser was verjuice, which was fresh grape juice prevented from turning by the addition of salt. In the fall, when the grapes were first pressed, a great cleaning of woolens took place. Cookbooks were just beginning to appear in the latter part of the fourteenth century.
We have to study them a bit, finding our way through the terminology that makes medieval cooking sound rather ferocious. But the brouets are only stews, and the porrays, classified as white, green, and black, are vegetable purées.
Many of the dishes would have been entirely to our tastes, and, in fact, are still part of classic French cookery. We would certainly like medieval desserts — figs, grapes, pears, cherries, nuts, candied orange peel, cookies, and crepes. Even the archaic sounding frumenty turns out to be that old New England specialty, Indian pudding — though it uses wheat or barley instead of the still unknown cornmeal. The preserves of pears, peaches, and quince were made with honey rather than sugar, but sound delightful.
Hippocras is nothing but mulled wine. Sweetened with honey or, for fancier occasions, with sugar and spiked with cinnamon and cloves, hippocras obviously served the need for something more stimulating than the ordinary wine that was taken with every meal. Distilled liquors were as yet unknown, although the Ménagier tells how to make an interesting meal by setting honey to ferment with beer. On the other hand, the Ménagier gives certain recipes we, at first, cannot understand.
The dishes strike us as difficult to prepare and digest and uses an odd mixture of spices. It has been suggested that the spices were needed to cover up the taste of tainted meat. But there is no reason to think the meat would have been tainted. Animals were slaughtered daily, and there is evidence that the meat trade could estimate daily demand with great accuracy. Nor were the spices covering up the taste of salt, for the recipes in question are usually for fresh meat or fish.
The flavor must have been appreciated on its own merits. In fact, the mixture of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves yields what we now call curry powder. What the medieval French were eating were curries. The bourgeois wife spent a good while in the morning dressing. Though she had no full-length looking glass, only a polished brass plaque in which she could see her face, she was highly aware of her appearance.
Fashions were changing with great rapidity by the mid-fourteenth century, especially in regard to headdresses and the cut of sleeves. New fabrics, colors, and weaves were making their appearance.
These were first taken up by the nobility, but very soon the middle-class woman was asking for the same. Upon the classic base of chemise undershift , blanchet white blouse, a bit of which would show around the neckline , cote a long sleeved, close-bodiced dress , and surcote a wide cloak open at the front and cinched in with a broad belt , all kinds of variations could be played. Belts became articles of vanity — they were embroidered, made of precious fabrics like brocade or velvet, ornamented with silver-gilt beads, and hung with a purse or some jeweled ornament.
The surcote developed great width and length. It sometimes even had a train and was edged with fur. In this form, it was called the houppelande. The simple white scarf used by countrywomen to keep their hair in place during heavy work had been elaborated into the wimple. Of very fine linen or silk voile, the wimple surrounded the face and went under the chin.
To drape it becomingly took a great deal of art and time. Most aristocratic of all was the hennin, a tall, conical headdress which had a wire framework for support.
Priests denounced such excesses of dress in their sermons. The bourgeois husband, too, preferred to have his wife dress discreetly without novelties that would cause talk, especially among his female relatives.
Ever sensitive on this point, he could be brought round to approving new purchases. Churchgoing was an important duty of the wife. Since she might be the only one who had time for it, her devoutness served for the whole household. She said a quick prayer in French upon awakening; as soon as she was dressed, her destination was the church. Her deportment, as she walked, was prescribed, as was correct behavior in church.
She was not to be distracted, but to choose a quiet spot before a favorite chapel, and holding her head upright and keeping her lips ever moving, to say the right prayers for the day.
To help with this, the Books of Hours were much in demand. The requirements of worship had become so complicated that the average person could hardly cope with them. The answer was a private prayer book, with the prayers arranged according to the canonical hours. Besides her spiritual life, her supervisory functions, and social contacts with relatives and guests, the bourgeois woman had another great resource — her garden.
The garden was not large and was rather formally arranged, with square or rectangular beds edged with bricks. In the city, the whole was enclosed by a brick wall, in the country by a wattle fence. The flowers in the garden were violets, pinks, peonies, lilies, and roses. There was also a selection of vegetables, but these were by no means paramount.
More room was allotted to the herbs — those used in cooking, those used in simple medicinal preparations, and those from which fragrant waters were made for laving the hands after meals. The garden also contained berry bushes and espaliered fruit trees. But here we are faced with a paucity of material. The Ménagier, so eager to give instruction on every aspect of the household, has not a word to say on child care.
This was the realm of women. They passed on to each other whatever was known on the subject. It was not very much, and infant mortality was high. The causes of death in so tiny a creature were hard to pin down. One writer stated that most babies died because their mothers, taking them into their beds, unwittingly crushed them during the night.
He had observed, however, that God in His grace had given an infant special gifts: As a result, those who brought up a child loved it and instinctively had pity on it. That last point was very necessary, because children were so dirty and bothersome when they were small and so bad and capricious when they were bigger that no one would want to look after them otherwise.
All children should take the Lord Jesus for their example; he had been so humble and obedient to his blessed Mother and her husband Joseph. Nor could one say that children were good or bad because God had made them that way. They were not like the beasts or the birds, but had free will, at least once they were ten years old.
Those who looked after children loved them increasingly as they grew. But that was dangerous. Children must not be allowed to have their will when little; they must be corrected just as a twig should be bent while tender.
A parent should not show a child too great a love, for that would make the child proud and embolden it to be bad. A child should first be chastised by words, then by the birch, then by prison. Few children died because of too much severity, but many because of too much indulgence.
That, at any rate, was one theory of child rearing. The books that propounded it were written by men, not women. These men were often clerics who not only had had no experience with family life, but were also basically opposed to it. We must remember that theology was by no means sympathetic to children or to the broader spectrum of family feeling. The deep pessimism that was one strain of religion looked dourly upon women and what they stood for.
The cry of a child was the lamentation of a soul condemned to live in a world of evil. It was not through the taking of wives, the begetting and raising of children, that fallen humankind could reach salvation, but through prayer, penitence, and gifts to the Church. That was official doctrine. It was believed and yet it was not believed.
Yet the Church had also provided a whole department, as it were, to take care of family needs. This was headed by the figure of Mary.
Every church had a Mary chapel, and this was the most protected, the most sacred of all, situated in the center of the apse directly behind the altar.
The south portal of any cathedral belonged to Mary, and the south window of the transept. The figure of the slight and smiling young mother, of stone or polychromed wood, holding the Holy Infant, was as prominent as the crucifix in every church.
There were some Mary statues that were wonderworkers, and people came from great distances to pray before them. Certainly, women could see that she was on their side. They turned to her daily and in every emergency. If barren, they prayed to her for children. If pregnant, they prayed for a safe delivery. And when they had a child, they prayed to her for its health and safety. What the nineteenth century called the diseases of childhood — smallpox, scarlet fever, diphtheria — were endemic.
In the south, there was malaria and typhoid. Breastfeeding conferred some natural immunity, but this did not extend beyond weaning, nor was it proof against many types of infection.
Certain herbs were known to be good — to tighten the bowels or draw out fevers. In country districts, where vestiges of paganism hung on, there were spells — nonsense syllables that sounded vaguely Latin — and ceremonies performed at a sacred tree or spring. But on the whole, mothers did not want to entrust their children to the dark powers. They turned to the Blessed Virgin. And if Mary failed them in this, they did not believe the less in her. She would at least look out for their dead children in paradise.
The age had an immense resignation in the face of death. More important than saving a life was assuring a soul a place in heaven. But this did not mean that a dead child was not mourned.
A few hints in sermons illuminate an area of medieval psychic life that otherwise lies in darkness. A dream is reported in which a dead child appears to its mother and shows a wet shroud.
It begs the mother not to weep any longer so that the shroud may dry. This dream is recorded in a number of variations — a dead child appears in one dream as a full-grown man, but afflicted with a limp. When the mother asks why he is limping, the dream brings forth a watering can from beneath his cloak and says it is full of the tears the mother has shed all these years, and he is condemned to carry this heavy thing around.
The mother hastily promises that she will weep no more but devote herself to good works. Dreams of this sort stand for countless others. Nor was the pain of losing a child felt exclusively by women. He even ordered that part of the forest cut down in which he had been riding when the news reached him.
He was, to be sure, a king, who could give his emotions full play. But we must not think that people were indifferent to the deaths of their children. Miniatures show the child occupying an important place in the family constellation. The Holy Family, in its modest but pleasant surroundings, was a favorite theme for Books of Hours. Nativities were equally well loved. Again and again, we see the stable and the Mother with the Child in her lap, admired by a solemn Joseph.
Family happiness was here given its sanctification. Another favorite theme was the birth of John the Baptist. Here the circumstances depicted are more normal — there is no manger, no ox nor ass. Saint Elizabeth is lying in a decent bed and is being looked after by a number of capable women.
Many would not come through it. No one will claim that the Middle Ages took a scientific view of child development. Nevertheless, there was a good deal of traditional wisdom and a treasury of instinctive response. It was not yet a matter of course for the upper classes to employ a wet nurse. This was still a question of personal choice, with many noblewomen and even queens preferring to nurse their children.
But still another element, that of pride of blood, entered in. A story from one of the romances so popular with noble readers makes the point plain. Never did Countess Yde, who was so good and fair suffer that one of her three sons, for any cause whatsoever, should be suckled by waiting-woman or damosel; all three were suckled at her own breast. One day the lady went to hear mass at her chapel, and commended her three sons to one of her maidens.
One of the three, awakening, wailed sore and howled; wherefore the maiden called a damosel and bade her suckle the child The Countess came back and called the maiden: Swiftly she flew, all trembling with rage, and caught her child under her arms There on a mighty table she bade them spread out a purple quilt, and hold the child: Yet ever after were his deeds and his renown less, even to the day of his death.
There is a fine aristocratic passion in this scene. Then, as now, each class brought up its children in its own image. The babies of the nobility were dressed like little princelings. The child was furnished with a long surcoat of green damask trimmed with squirrel fur at the neck and wrists, a tunic of fine vermilion cloth similarly trimmed, two vermilion caps, two pairs of woolen hose, and two little doublets of Reims linen.
No less than eighteen pairs of shoes, made by the royal shoemaker, were provided over the year. It began with Latin grammar and went on to the other six liberal arts. A young noble read what classical authors were known at the time and the writers of his own epoch. He developed an elegant handwriting.
Successful bourgeois also felt the need for liberal arts and sent their children to the cathedral schools, where Latin grammar was taught. The more intellectually inclined went from there to the universities, eventually specializing in theology, law, or medicine. Even peasant boys, or those from the artisan class who showed an aptitude for study, could find their way to a university.
But what they countered there was only a form of technical schooling opening the way to one of the learned professions. By far the larger number of such students never made it to the end, for university studies were a terribly long grind, carried on under chaotic conditions. Many would drop out and find some lowly position requiring literacy. The ordinary peasant did not learn to read or write. Artisans underwent only vocational training as apprentices to their trade.
But we must not imagine that the absence of regularized education left an enormous void. There was a great deal of oral culture — telling of tales and singing of songs. Churches provided images and concepts to fill the mind and nourish the imagination.