Flavorings in Context: Spices and Herbs in Medieval Near East
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Throughout history, the approach towards imported spices varied from culture to culture. In medieval and early post-medieval Europe, where spices became an exotic object of temporary desire, they were often used unskillfully and in a haphazard manner. In the Ottoman Constantinople, unlike in Europe, it was the moderate use of spices, and not overdosing them, that became a manifestation of status. As deliberate paragons of refinement, the Ottomans depreciated what they considered uncivilized ways of their Arab provincial population, heavily seasoned diet included. Indeed, to a foreign observer, the Arabic-Islamic cookery might have appeared irrationally overseasoned. But the way the medieval Arab urbanites used spices was not a result of their surrender to changeable vogue, or the need to show off.
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