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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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buran the nickname of the wife of a 9th-century caliph of Baghdad, has evolved from a special dish served at her wedding into a whole family of dishes which have found their way to many parts of the world. Thus the memory of the Princess, who died in 884, is honoured every day on many thousands of tables. Her name and the vegetable here called eggplant (but described under aubergine) have become inextricably linked.

The story is of exceptional interest. First, her wedding celebrations were of fabulous magnificence. Secondly, the dish named for her and its descendants are a virtually unique case of a dish whose history can be traced from the date of its introduction over a period of 1,000 years. We can watch with unusual clarity the evolutionary processes that affect a dish over the centuries as it spreads thousands of miles into new physical and social settings.