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Feast like a Medieval Arab: MEMO in Conversation with Daniel Newman

Ever wondered about the origins of some of your favourite Middle Eastern dishes? Many recipes date back to medieval times but have been tweaked and amended to create the modern take and flavours we now know. Join us as Daniel Newman takes us on a journey of food through the ages.

April 3, 2024 at 4:00 pm



During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, where believers abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk, food takes on a whole new significance and despite people not eating during the day, for Muslims across the world, the holy month is associated with all sorts of culinary delights. MEMO has decided to deep dive into the history of food in the Arab World. Along the way, we learn of interesting recipes, we hear of connections between food and home, we understand how health concerns influenced the way people used to eat. Did you know Arabs and Europeans used to eat similar dishes in medieval times? Did you know Arab food used to be renowned for being spicy, but went on became less and less spicy? Helping us to make sense of all of this is Daniel Newman of Durham University.

Newman holds the Chair of Arabic Studies at the University of Durham (UK). His research interests include Arabic travel literature, 19th-century Arab reform movements, Islamic medicine and medieval Arab culinary history. He is the author of the best-selling ‘An Imam in Paris; Account of a stay in France by an Egyptian cleric (1826-1831)’ and was the co-recipient of the World Award of the President of the Republic of Tunisia for Islamic Studies for the book entitled ‘Muslim Women in Law and Society’. His book ‘The Sultan’s Feast. A Fifteenth-century Cookbook’ was longlisted for the Peter Mackenzie Smith Book Prize 2021 and received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2021. His most recent book is a translation, ‘The Exile’s Cookbook: Medieval Gastronomic Treasures from Al-Andalus and North Africa’. His research was showcased in a six-part Al Jazeera series on the history of medieval Arab food. He maintains a blog and Instagram account where he shares his passion for bringing medieval Arab dishes to life by recreating recipes.

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