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Ch. 8 - FAITH AND FOODSTUFFS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2009

Kenneth F. Kiple
Affiliation:
Bowling Green State University, Ohio
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Summary

Religious contention is the devil's harvest.

Jean de La Fountaine (1621–1695)

ISLAM

The expansion of Islam began shortly after the Prophet Muhammad died in 632. By 750 the Muslims had conquered an area running from the Indus Valley westward through the Middle East to the Iberian Peninsula, and elites were speaking Arabic from Spain to Central Asia.

The Arabs, like the Romans before them, learned to use the wind systems of the monsoon (the winds reverse themselves seasonally) to sail from the Persian Gulf eastward into the Indian Ocean in November, and then return to port during the summer months. Regular eighth-century trading voyages to China saw wool and iron exchanged for silks and spices. About two centuries later, when trade with China was disrupted by the fall of the Tang Empire (907), the Arabs skipped the middleman and headed directly to the East Indies, capturing the spice trade and spreading Islam as they went.

Christian Europe, an implacable enemy of Islam, nonetheless admired Islamic cuisine and benefited from Islam's commercial activity. That activity ensured that spices reached the Continent on a circuitous path from the East Indies, as well as new foodstuffs such as sugarcane (genus Saccharum), mangos (Mangifera indica), dates, and bananas. Moreover, toward the end of the twelfth century, the wooly merino sheep was introduced to Spain – an animal originally developed by the Romans and later exported to Africa.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Movable Feast
Ten Millennia of Food Globalization
, pp. 83 - 90
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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  • FAITH AND FOODSTUFFS
  • Kenneth F. Kiple, Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • Book: A Movable Feast
  • Online publication: 22 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511512148.010
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  • FAITH AND FOODSTUFFS
  • Kenneth F. Kiple, Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • Book: A Movable Feast
  • Online publication: 22 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511512148.010
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

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  • FAITH AND FOODSTUFFS
  • Kenneth F. Kiple, Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • Book: A Movable Feast
  • Online publication: 22 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511512148.010
Available formats
×