A librarian and a food historian rediscovered the recipes of Moorish Spain
Most of the cookbook's 475 recipes survived in copies. Acting upon a colleague's recommendation, Hallum eventually sent a link to the manuscript to food historian Nawal Nasrallah, who, as it happened, was busy translating one of the incomplete copies of the Fiḍāla from Arabic into English. It remains one of only a handful of surviving cookbooks from Moorish Spain, an era when food was deeply intertwined with those traditionally taboo dinner-table topics: religion and politics. Even if many of the recipes were too daunting for most cooks, al-Tujībī promised that they would "Rarely fail to please with their novelty and exquisiteness." This level of scrutiny spawned Jewish and Islamic "Crypto-cuisines," foods prepared according to religious custom but intended to fool the authorities, such as faux chuletas, which were actually thick slices of fried, egg- and milk-soaked bread. "Conversos would throw an actual pork chop on the fire, to have the scent permeating the house, but were eating these things that were really French toast," says Genie Milgrom, a descendent of conversos from Fermoselle in Spain's Zamora region and author of Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers, a collection of family recipes dating back to the time of the Inquisition. The book also includes less laborious recipes such as the long-lost carrot recipe which calls for boiling the pieces until tender, browning them in olive oil, and simply finishing them with vinegar, garlic, and a sprinkle of caraway seeds. While al-Tujībī never saw his beloved al-Andalus again, thanks to the discovery of a 300-year-old clerical error, all of his favorite recipes have now returned home.