Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hummus in Period

In 16th Century Italy, there were a variety of travelers passing through the ports of Naples and Venice. We can easily see the Turkish influences in clothing but I'm also curious about the food.

Hummus is certainly period for the Middle East but what about elsewhere? Would a 16th Century Italian lady be able to taste hummus in her lifetime? Granted, I'm just hungry for hummus and trying to find an excuse at this point (:-D) but I'm looking up information to see if mushed chickpeas ever made it to Italy.

According to this 14th C recipe chickpeas were certainly known in Italy. However, they sound like they are used in a soup, not as a paste like Hummus would be. Still, this gives me some hope. There is also a 15th Century recipe for chickpea soup.

I also found a chickpeas pie from the 15th C:
[Torta di ceci.]

Farai cocere una libra de cici rosci, pistali molto bene, et col
suo brodo et con un pocha d'acqua rosata gli passarai per una stamegna
bene stretta; et habi una libra de amandole ben mondate et bianche
piste molto bene, perché non se vogliono passare per la stamegna;
et con esse se vol pistare doi once de uva passa et tre o quattro
fiche secche, item un'oncia et meza di pignoli rotti un pocho et non
pisti, giognendoli del zuccharo, dell'acqua rosata, de la cannella,
et del zenzevero, mescolando bene tutte queste cose inseme. Et per
farla prendere l'incorporarai de la farina d'amitto o dill'ova del
luccio como è ditto di sopra, et mettirala accocere con una crosta di
sotto; et quando ti pare presso che cotta gli mettirai suso del
zuccharo et dell'acqua rosata, et darali anchora di sopra una bona calda
di foco. Et nota che questa torta vole essere bassa.

Isabella's Horrible Translation with the not so helpful Google Translate:
Boil a pound of red chickpeas, mash them very well, and with
its broth and with a little rosewater that seeps through for a Stamegna (?)
well close, and get one pound of well cleaned almonds, blanched, and
runs very well, because they did not want to go through the Stamegna;
and with them mash two ounces of raisins and three or four
dried chips (?), a small ounce and a half of a broken, not mashed, pine nuts, a lot of sugar, rosewater, cinnamon and
ginger, stirring well all these things together. And for
it incorporate flour amice or egg of
pike as is also above (Yeah, I have no idea either), and put them in to cook with a base crust: and when you think that cooked at the put it upward of
sugared rosewater and of it anchor it above a good hot
fire. And note that this tart wants to be low (ie, will not rise?).

Like I said, really bad translation because I know Latin and some Spanish, not Italian. And definitely not 15th C Italian...

Anyway, they had chickpeas. They had garlic. We even know they had lemon, paprika, and pretty much anything else you can think of that goes into a modern hummus; but hummus? Did it make it to Italy? the chickpea tart sounds like a "sweet" hummus in a shell. So, I guess I'm going cheat a little and just get my hummus - for now- and happily eat it since it did exist in the 16th century, it's just hard to tell if it made it to Italy.

EDIT: I FOUND IT! In ITALY! Or, at least something close enough that it would be recognizable as hummus to us. And it's a lenten food!

Altramente di Quaresima. Togli ceci rotti o interi, poni a cocere con olio, sale e pesi minuzzati, ovvero battuti e distemperati nel mortaio; e, messovi spezie e zaffarano, da' a mangiare.

My really bad translation:

Another way for Lent. Take both broken and whole chickpeas, cook with oil, and a very small amount of salt, mash 'em into a paste; and, put in spices and saffron, of this eat.

This is from the 1300's/1400's in Italy. Oil, chickpeas, spice, mixed into a paste...sounds like hummus to me!


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