A host tending to the needs of his guests, Maqâmât al-Harîrî, 1236 CE

As richly illustrated in Geert Jan van Gelder’s delightul God’s Banquet: Food in Classical Arabic Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), Arab poets loved food and wrote extensively on the adab of cuisine. There are poems devoted to specific foods, but even a few recipes for the cook with a wit as well as a greasy thumb. Here is van Gelder’s translation of a recipe poem by the Baghdadi poet Kushajim (died 961 CE):

You have asked me about the best of dishes:
You’ve asked today someone who is not ignorant!
Now take, my friend, some ribs of meat,
And after that some meat of leg, and fat,
And chop some fat and succulent meat
And rinse it with sweet and clear water.
Put it into the frying-pan on the fire,
Then fry it with oil and herbs
And when the contents have become red-crown,
Cut up some onion bulbs over it,
And fresh green chives,
And add to it some rue and coriander.
And pour on it some pickling brine and ginger
And afterwards a little pepper.
And after that, put some asparagus on top.
Then break an egg on it. like eyes,
Like shining stars of the firmament
Or round narcissus flowers,
And sprinkle bits of rue on it.
Some of it standing up[right (?)
Now serve the dish in a covering
Or in a wicker basket made of osier.
Then mention God’s name and bon appetit!
A Wholesome and delicious dish.