SERTARUL CU GANDURI

02/12/2018

Michael Krondl – „The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice” – 3


Venetians not only tried to dress like the Byzantines, they aped their eating habits, too. Not that every Eastern culinary innovation was immediately embraced. The imported fork, for example, was initially demonized as “an instrument of the devil.” When the doge’s son Giovanni Orseolo returned from Constantinople around 1004 with his Byzantine bride, Maria, she immediately elicited gossip not least because of the highly suspect implements in her trousseau. “She did not touch food with her hands,” wrote a scandalized reporter years after the event, “but the food was cut up into small pieces by her servants and she would pick up these tidbits, tasting them using a golden fork with two tines.”

The city at the gates of the Bosporus had always been a magnet for people from across eastern Europe and western Asia. A Western Crusader described Constantinople’s melting pot in 1096: “Greeks, Bulgarians…Italians, Venetians, Romanians [the contemporary term for mainland Greece], Dacians [from today’s Romania], English, Amalfitans, even Turks; many heathen peoples, Jews and proselytes, Cretans, Arabs and people of all nations come together here.” Not surprisingly, the local culture was inflected by all these foreign accents and the city’s cuisine seasoned by flavors from across the empire.

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