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52933Re: on Murri

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  • lilinah@earthlink.net
    Dec 30, 2005
      Bogdan wrote:
      >Murri is a wonderful ingredient. It's rotted barley. Now, before you get
      >all down on it, it's "rotted barley" like soy sauce is "rotted soy". They
      >are made in a similar fashion.

      True... and Charles Perry made it from scratch from "rotted" barley
      loaves. Said the finished product tasted rather like soy sauce and he
      recommends using a cheap soy sauce with more grain than soy as a

      Since i'm not planning to make my own from scratch, i've started
      using Kikkoman as a substitute, but i'm going to experiment with
      dilute barley miso this coming year.

      >Evidentally, the making of murri is
      >somewhat dangerous and fell out of fashion in the latter 15th century.

      That was mere conjecture on the part of Charles Perry, who, after
      making his own from scratch, decided he was wrong and retracted that
      remark when it dawn on him that he was making something very like a
      koji (the basis of soy sauce)

      Murri seems to have fallen out of favor around the same time, or a
      tad earlier, than fish sauce fell out of favor in the Eastern
      Mediterranean, but i think it had to do with issues other than *
      danger * danger * danger * Will Robinson... More likely, in my
      opinion, issues of changing taste and technologies, and shifts in the
      trade routes and centers of culture, i.e., sociological, cultural,
      political and economic, rather than medical.

      According to Andrew Dalby, in his book on Roman cuisine, "Empire of
      Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World", when the
      Ottomans conquered Constantinopolis in 1453, they inherited fish
      sauce from the Byzantines and continued to make it for some time
      (although i don't know for how long). Alas, i do not yet own Dalby's
      "Flavours of Byzantium: The Cuisine of a Legendary Empire".

      >the Annonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century (IIRC), there is a
      >recipe for Byzantine Murri, which is a murri substitute. The recipe can
      >be found in Cariadoc's Miscellany.

      This is true, and i have used it. However...

      I counted all the seasonings in both al-Baghdadi's cookbook and in
      the anonymous Andalusian (but skipped the chapters on sweets, since
      in my opinion that would skew the count - i will do them separately
      to compare sweets on their own).
      While doing this research, i found several admonitions to NOT use
      fake/Byzantine murri - and i think there were no recipes that
      specified fake murri - i'll have to track the exact references on
      that down. So i have stopped using it.

      >One should note the Nigella is NOT poisonous as the poster maintains. I
      >happen to have a bunch in my cabinet, have used it often, and we even
      >recently had a discussion about it on the list.

      I don't remember who conjectured that nigella was poisonous. It is
      still used with some frequency in the cuisines of India, Afghanistan,
      and Iran. For more information about nigella see:

      Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
      the persona formerly known as Anahita
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