THE ROLE OF FOOD IN THE CONFLICT OF TWO IDENTITIES: MORISCOS AND CASTILIANS IN EARLY MODERN TIMES
SHORT VERSION OF: "L'émergence d'une identité alimentaire: Musulmans et chrétiens dans le royaume de Grenada", in Bruegel, M. & Laurioux, B: Histoire et Identités alimentaires en Europe. Paris. Hachette. 2002, pp. 169-185. Teresa de Castro © 2003-2006.
This paper is protected by the Copyright Laws.
Thanks to Prof. Lynn Martin for helping me with the organization of this paper and with the translation into English.
The aim of this paper is to show what were the consequences of the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada on the Muslim culinary system between 1492 and 1610. The "universe of food" was the mirror of a more complex reality. This study of Muslim food reveals the action of the strong Castilian unitary ideology on a group of Muslims whose identity was dualistic, both Arabic and Andalusian. This unitary discourse focused on religious and cultural specificity and affected directly Muslim food ways. The pressure that Castilians exercised on Muslims produced a transformation of the Muslim culinary identity and, as a result, the reinforcement of the Muslim dietary self-awareness. This pressure also and paradoxically transformed the Morisco culinary system.
The paper begins by defining the concept of identity and looks at the meaning of Castilian and Andalusian identity. Next the paper describes the particularities of the Andalusian dietary system and examines the effects that Castilian political ideology had on this system.
The first period includes the years from 1492 to 1502. The treaties of peace between the Andalusian and Castilian rulers granted the continuity of the Islamic laws, customs and properties and established a segregated society. When the Catholic Monarchs changed their religious policy, Muslims' rebellion spread over the Kingdom of Granada between 1499 to1501/1502. After the Muslims’ defeat the monarchs ordered on 12 February 1502 the conversion of Muslims or their expulsion from Castile.
The following period starts in 1501/1502 and finishes in 1610. After the conversion, Muslims –now called Moriscos- lost the privileges that the Crown had granted after the conquest. This was the period of the establishment of the Inquisition in Granada accompanied by the hardening of the measures against Moriscos with the depositions of the Synod of Guadix in 1554. These developments and the policy of indoctrinating children in Christianity became a decisive element in the transformation of the Moriscos. The most important event of this period was the War of Alpujarras, which started in 1568 as a general rebellion of Granada Moriscos against the Castilians. This war was the result of a royal decree in 1567 forbidding Morisco customs, of the confiscation of many Morisco lands, and of the cultural weakness of Moriscos. Two years after the start of the Moriscos’ rebellion, the Castilian rulers expelled them from the Kingdom of Granada and distributed them in Muslim ghettos around Castile. In 1609 came the order of expulsion of all Moriscos from the Iberian Peninsula, and the anti-Morisco literature started to justify the expulsion.
The paper ends by describing the effects of all the Castilian measures on Morisco food identity and on Castilian cuisine.
IDENTITY, CONQUERORS AND MUSLIMS
Identity is the way a person or a social group defines oneself/itself in relation to another. Because identity is always linked to a particular historical conjuncture, identity is always changing, and as a result the other is never immutable. Any process of identification reflects the way people determine their relation with the others, the way they organise their spaces and create networks of affinities, solidarity or avoidance. The notion of identity includes implicitly the notion of unity and, thus, the will of denying diversity and imposing homogeneity.
Focusing on food, dietary identity takes into account the form in which a society organises and conceptualises the spaces surrounding food, the way in which food is eaten and the mechanisms that permit eating. All of these elements are closely related to the existence of a mentality, in which the social, political and religious factors of a particular period join. In the Kingdom of Granada it is impossible to distinguish Castilian or Morisco identity without distinguishing the antagonism existing between both communities.
1.2. The Identity of Conquerors
The Castilian perception of Andalusian food ways -as shown by the Castilian chronicles and travel books of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries- displayed a certain tolerance toward all food ways located on the spatial or cultural fringes of the Christian West, since they were produced in an environment that was not subject to the mental structures of Castilians.
After the conquest of al-Andalus, Castilians were not tolerant of the food because when Muslim territories became Castilian the structures had to do the same. The process of domination and the measures that Castilians put in place after the conquest were the result of the application of an ideology of unitary identity and its concepts of segregation, marginality, integration, education and persecution. The application of these concepts created a contradiction. Old Christians wanted to separate themselves from Moriscos, but at the same time Christians wanted to integrate Moriscos. Religion was the criterion that separated something assimilable from something that was not. In the ideological context of the period religion united the faithful, meaning that whoever was religiously divergent disturbed the social cohesion of the group. The contradictory Castilian unitary ideology was still in operation after the forced conversion. Castilians forced the Moriscos' conversion but marginalized Moriscos because they did not converted voluntary.
The combination and opposition of a series of concepts related to unity composed the Castilian discourse of identity: assimilation/exclusion, uniformity/anarchy, cohesion/chaos, authenticity/ "alienity", unity/otherness, assimilate/reject, convert/expel, old/new, forced/voluntary, true/false, trust/distrust, etc.
Castilian identity was reinforced and closely linked to the monarchy’s political concepts and to the dominant religious values. The consequence would be the policy of eliminating any "alienity" in order to reach a political unity. The action of the Inquisition supported the lay authorities in the application of the unitary ideology. This process was not unique in the Kingdom of Granada, and the mental structures that Castilians used in regard to American "indios" would be identical.
1.3. The Identity of Andalusian Muslims
Andalusian identity was based on belonging to the Islamic civilisation, so Andalusians were living inside their own semantic, ethical, spatial, economic, political and cultural framework. However, Andalusians were aware of their position inside the Arabic world. For example, al-Shaqundî (thirteenth century) defended in the Risâla fî Fal al-Andalus the superiority of Spanish Islam, and Ibn al-Hatîb (1313-1375) spoke of the superiority of the Andalusian city of Malaga in regard to the Maghribian town of Salé. This Andalusian awareness was not strong enough to give birth to an identity exclusively Andalusian. This vision would hardly be modified by the passage of time, even though by the end of the sixteenth century Granadian Muslims had been outside the frontiers of the Moslem world a long time.
The dualistic ideology and awareness that Andalusians had before the Castilian conquest did not disappear after the conquest. In fact, the feeling of belonging to the Arabic world took three new forms. First, was the creation of a series of salvation prophecies (called Jofores) in which Morisco hope was focused on Ottomans and on Maghribian pirates. Second, was the nostalgia of Muslim-Morisco land, which was no longer al-Andalus but Maghrib. Third, was the strengthening of the awareness of the group against Christians and the exaltation of Islamic laws and ways of life.
THE CULINARY SYSTEM OF ANDALUSIANS (1238-1492)
A culinary system could be defined as an ensemble of cultural dietary practices that reject some products, adopt others and give symbolic significance to the dishes reserved for the holy days and festivities.
A) The Andalusian culinary system included, first of all, a series of dietary laws. These norms established the taboo of blood (the need for ritual slaughtering and the distrust of some hunting practices) and the rejection of carrion and pork. Another group of rules established specific religious elements, such as the fasting periods (Ramadan) and the holy days (Feast of the Lamb, New Year, Birth of the Prophet, etc.). There were rules that set the relation between Muslims and other religions and permitted the consumption of Hebraic and Christian food except for religious dishes. Islamic law in exceptional circumstances authorised Muslims to disguise or dissemble their religious customs (a practice known as taqîya), including eating forbidden products and drinking wine.
B) Most of the Andalusian dietary practices had cultural as well as religious meanings. The Andalusian culinary system included the selection of basic foodstuffs: wheat (transformed in bread, "paps" or pasta), spelt, Italian millet, barley, rye, sorghum (used mainly for preparing bread), dried and seasonal fruits, vegetables, sheep, goat and poultry, dairy products syrups and preserves. There was a preference for some methods of preparation, such as mixing systems of cooking (boiling before frying and roasting, or vice versa). It included certain spice and herbs blends (black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, saffron, ginger and spikenard), and the combination of condiments such as sugar or honey with vinegar, juices or floral "waters" and almorí (condiment made of fermented barley balls). There was a basic cuisine’s fat, olive oil, although butter and lamb fat were also available. All of these elements produced the prevalence of certain tastes, sweet/sour especially, the prevalence of some colours such as green, yellow, golden and white, and finally the prevalence of certain aromas. Andalusians preferred fatty wheaten thick soups, chunky fish, minced or stuffed meats, fried meats and fishes, fried sweets (isfany, al-muyabbanât for example) use of vinegar during boiling, some fermented cereal or dairy products. There was, finally, an ensemble of practices related to eating such as frugality, use of low tables, communal eating, and the blessing of the table.
C) Andalusian cuisine was, as Andalusian identity, a mix of Andalusian, Persian and Maghribian recipes. The native dishes were Hubz al-banîy (Italian millet bread), lahtadj (flour pap), zabzîn (a pasta dish), ra's maymûn (a round brioche), al-muyabbanât (cheese fritter), fidâwsh (noodles), Yalya (salsa), Balâya (a tripe-based dish), isfîrîya (decorative pastry), ra's bartâl (dish based on broad beans), musamma' (salted fish, especially tuna) and qawqan (snails). Some of the most famous dishes were from Persian origin, such as tafâyâ (stew of meat with onion and coriander), zîrbây (casserole made of meat, chickpeas, cinnamon, vinegar, sugar, almonds and pepper) or Yasîsh (whole-grain stew). There were Maghribian recipes such as couscous, mutawwama (thin tortillas eaten with chicken and cheese), casîda (a type of porridge) and harîsa (soup of wheat and meat) and it was possible to find products that originated in Central Asia such as yoghurt or skimmed milk.
Manuela Marín's study of Andalusian recipe books concludes that there was not a truly Andalusian cuisine, because it was not different from Middle Eastern cuisine, and the native recipes could be directly linked to those of Maghrib. However, Andalusians have a perception of their food as different. For example, Ibn al-Azraq of Malaga (1428-1491) wrote an Uryûza (poem composed in radjaz metre) during his exile in Maghrib in which he wrote about the favourite dishes from his homeland and mentioned the North African ones.
CASTILIAN POLICY ON FOOD
3.1. After the Castilian Conquest (1492-1501/2
A) The effect of the Castilian identity ideology on Muslims' food life was the policy of food segregation. First, food segregation was the result of the free decision of Muslims to continue with their faith, traditions and culinary system, as the treaties signed between the Andalusian and Castilian rulers granted.
Second, food segregation was the consequence of the application of the Castilian unitary ideology, thus religious and cultural practices were the same thing and both had to disappear. The best means of achieving this goal to promote the integration of Muslims into Christian society through a segregation policy. Hence, the Archbishop of Granada issued two apparently contradictory edicts. The first edict (March 22, 1498) had the aim of moving Christians away from non Christians, forbidding Christians by punishment of excommunication to sell wine to Muslims, to consume poultry slaughtered by them, to bathe in Muslim baths, to use Muslim midwives, or to rent their houses to Muslims for the purpose of weddings. The second edict, undated but issued a little later, promoted a voluntary integration of Muslims into Christian customs through abandoning their religious customs, such as Muslims prayers, fasts and feasts, birth, marriage and funeral ceremonies, clothes, footwear, hair style and Arabic language.
Third, food segregation was a side effect of the fiscal advantages granted by the Monarchy to Christians in their commercial dealings. The municipal councils received charters that exempted Christians from the payment of tolls and taxes on commercial transactions, and the most important councils also received charters for holding free markets. This meant that the Muslims had to pay those food taxes that the Christian settlers did not have to pay and that the process economically benefited Castilians. Therefore, going to the market was more difficult for Muslims.
Fourth, food segregation was a consequence of the creation of delimited Muslim ghettos, inside or outside the most important cities, in which Muslims had a central market or street market for their shopping.
Finally, food segregation was a sign of the marginal role of Muslims in the transformation of the crops in the fields, of the new organization of the market, and of the adaptation of the public spaces to the Castilian spatial theories.
B) In al-Andalus the consumption of wine was illegal but people still drank it. The tendency of the Moslems to drink wine was especially evident during the years following the conquest. Many municipal ordinances accordingly attempted to control Muslim excesses, but without success. For example, in Granada an ordinance in April 1500 forbade Muslims to drink wine in taverns and to buy "cueros de vino ni botas para se juntar en los cármenes e heredades a se enborrachar" .
C) Castilians apparently had no intention of modifying other typical Muslim practices such as the consumption of secondary breads, the use of cheese or milk, the use of different methods of cooking and other culinary customs.
3.2. From the Forced conversion to the Expulsion (1501/2-1610)
The food measures that Castilian authorities put into operation pursued a successful policy of integration by confronting the cultural meaning of the Muslim food. The authorities continued to oppose Morisco drunkenness and to forbid the consumption of ritually killed meat, and they enacted harsh measures against other religious particularities.
A) Economic segregation. After the conversion the situation changed a little. The entire social group was now, in theory at least, united. Moriscos logically had to follow the same food regulations as their Christian neighbours, but their butchers, bakeries, and mills were still separate. Although the commercial segregation was not as rigid as previously, the economic situation still favoured Christians. For example, the council of Vera decided in July 1504 that the Moriscos of the villages of Teresa, Cabrera, Béder and Serena all had to use the mills of Teresa, while the Christians must use those of Vera and Mojácar. Nonetheless, in this area the majority of the population was Morisco, and the most important mills were the last two reserved for Christians. Another example of the favourable economic position of Christians was the regulation against Moriscos buying cheap salt at the salt-pits, where only Christians were permitted to go.
B) Meat. After the conversion Morisco and Christian butchers were subject to the same bans on ritual slaughtering. But this practice was so widespread that a series of royal decrees was issued between 1511 and 1513 for eradicating it. Although Moriscos often escaped this persecution, these regulations interfered with their food ways. When Moriscos needed to slaughter an animal, they dared not kill it on their own, and if they did the authorities imposed many penalties; on many occasions when the law officers entered a house and found fresh or preserved meat, they mistreated the resident. As a result of this persecution some butchers did not dare slaughter cattle or other animals belonging to Moriscos. As a result, the other option for Moriscos was killing their animals in the presence of a parish priest or sacristan or, at least, in the presence of any old Christian. But often these people had more important things to do or simply they didn’t want to be present. For this reason, Moriscos frequently remained without meat or had to kill the animals illegally.
Because many Moriscos were involved in the food industry a "black market" in meat developed. For example, in 1582 the authorities caught one Morisco, Martín de Peralte, bringing meat to Moriscos of Archidona for consumption on Fridays and feast days.
C) Wine. There was a continuity regarding Moriscos’ consumption of wine. The measures against drunken behaviour were political rules for achieving the collective pacification of Moriscos, trying to avoid confrontations between groups of drunken persons from both religions and to avoid conspiracies within the Muslim group. In July 1505 the monarchs requested the municipal council of Guadix to put an end to Morisco drunkenness, because many Moriscos were drunk during their parties and on Sundays, and they even killed each other with knives. The request was not very effective because in 1515 a Royal Letter stipulated one day in jail for drunken behaviour. The letter alleged that Moriscos fell down publicly in the streets and the old Christians made fun of them, and due to being drunk they caused public disorder. These were years of rebellions, of attacks by North African pirates and Andalusian émigrés, and the accompanying threats from the Ottomans. This type of prohibition would continue to appear during the following years.
D) For the Inquisition food was perceived as an integral part of collective self-identification and then emblematic of the Morisco group, but the practices punished were only those which, according Castilian vision, were related directly or indirectly to Islamic practices or ceremonies. The 25 matters subject to denunciation over which inquisitorial accusations deliberated concerned religious practices as a whole and included feasting on Fridays and during Lent, fasting during Ramadan, slaughtering cattle ritually, the use of a funeral food "treasure" and the avoidance of bacon. Beyond the strict religious practices there were others that had no religious value but accompanied the celebration of certain festivities or ceremonies. This is the case for some dishes, such as couscous or mutawwama, which, moreover, were forbidden because they were dishes that were consumed with ritually slaughtered meats.
E) However, Castilian authorities rarely intervened against other Morisco food customs. The house-books of some Granadian municipal councils reveal the continuity of Morisco food practices, such as the preparation of bread made of spelt and "Italian" millet, the use of summer wheat and the production of eggs.
EFFECTS OF CASTILIAN POLICY ON MORISCO FOOD WAYS
Castilian policy had many consequences on Morisco food ways and food life. The effects on food space and on cuisine provoked a marginalization and acculturation of Moriscos’ food. Regarding identity there was a strengthening of the awareness of the group against Christians, and the exaltation of Islamic laws and food ways. Other resulting developments were the new equilibrium of those elements in religious identity relating to food as a consequence of the consumption of wine, and the appearance of a clear concept of "eating as a Moor".
4.1. What were the real changes in Food ways?
The comparison of the food practices described in the part 2 (above) with those which derived from the Inquisitorial records and anti-Morisco literature, and with those deduced from some catalogues of Morisco goods, gives an image of the Morisco culinary practices. Moriscos -as Andalusians did previously- slaughtereed animals ritually, rejected doubtful meat or game, fasted in Ramadan, observed Islamic holy days and abstained from wine and bacon. Moriscos also used different types of flours made of lentils, beans, Italian millet, and spelt. Moriscos ate their bread with raisins, figs, honey, arrope (thick syrup), milk, cheese and seasonal fruits. Moriscos used olive oil and preferred poultry (chicken and hen especially), sheep or goat meat. Moriscos had their own dishes, such as couscous, mutawwama, pots of Egypt, alhale, cazuela blanca, buñuelos, almojábanas, alfeñique and some honey, cheese, plum or apple cakes. Finally, they had some food customs such as eating without (high) tables and blessing the table.
This correspondence gives the impression that nothing had changed during that period. Nevertheless, there were important transformations on the time and places that surrounded food that documents hardly could show. The substitution of minarets with bell towers was more than a religious act, because bells marked a different rhythm than the rhythm of the Muslim call to prayer. The consequence was a change in the conception and use of time, a development that should certainly affect the hours of eating of Moriscos.
After the conquest the public spaces became also spaces of differentiation. Moriscos had, first, different places for shopping. Moreover, after the conversion the practice of taqîya and the action of the Inquisition converted public spaces in places of danger. As a result, one’s own house became a secret and a sacred place. For example, María de Lara said in 1572 that "dentro de la casa nos llamábamos de moros y allá fuera de cristianos". That is why Christians spied on the chimneys, patios and indoor life of Moriscos. Nevertheless, the most visible phenomenon was the movement of the Moriscos’ space of public eating and socialisation from streets and open markets –typical of al-Andalus- to the Castilian taverns. Granadian municipal ordinances show that Moriscos were also going to the taverns to eat, to drink, to dance and to sing.
The process of acculturation and adaptation is also evident in the Morisco cuisine and pottery. According to Christian sources Moriscos ate casseroles but not the stew known as Olla, because one of the main ingredients of Olla was bacon. In fact, one witness stated during an Inquisition trial that new Christians "no comen Olla sino cazuelas y guisadicos". However, sometimes the Moriscos did make their own version of Olla replacing bacon with olive oil. For example, María de Mendoza said that: "los cristianos no saben hazer ollas sin echarles toçino, que en su tierra [Granada] guisavan con açeite".
As for the pottery, the archaeological studies developed by Aguilera and Bordes have demonstrated the progressive substitution of Morisco pottery with Christian pottery. During the fifteenth century there was as well a progressive substitution of some of pieces of Morisco crockery related to the communal consumption with other forms of pottery related to the individual consumption such as plato (plate) and escudilla (bowl). Moreover, in September 2000 these archaeologists excavated a Morisco site in El Albaicín (Granada), which had been occupied during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. All the ceramic remains of this site were from pots (both Morisco and Castilian) normally used for preparing Olla, and no remains were found of earthen pans that were used commonly for preparing cazuelas.
Any transformation of the cooking or service pottery is related to a modification of the cooking system. However, the available sources do not permit the description of the real transformation of the original Andalusian recipes and of the unmodified adoption of Castilian dishes. If inquisitorial sources do not have more information about other Morisco dietary practices that is because Moriscos were involved in a real process of adaptation and acculturation.
The process of acculturation is visible also in another aspects of the Moriscos' life, including the neglect of many religious practices, such as the daily prayers or the neglect of the real motives for the Islamic prohibition on wine and bacon. The progressive impoverishment of the Morisco community also resulted in a decline in marriage ceremonies and celebrations. It is impossible to forget, finally, that the War of Alpujarras was a seedbed for the recovery of ancient traditions, which had progressively been forgotten. On many occasions it was in the Sierra that an Arab name was recovered, their religious ceremonies were re-learned and the culture was replenished and transmitted within the community.
4.2. Exaltation of Islamic Law and ways of Life
The qasîda (type of ode) that Moriscos sent in 1501 to the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II requesting assistance demonstrates that the forced conversion and the revocation of the treaties made Moriscos develop a stronger self-image and a feeling of moral and religious superiority towards the Castilians. Moriscos said that: "Cuando su pueblo, que habia sido conquistado, estuvo bajo la salvaguardia de nuestra religión y bajo la protección de nuestros gloriosos reyes que cumplían sus promesas, no fueron obligados a abandonar su fe ni sus hogares ni sufrieron traición o deshonor alguno". The qasîda called Castilians the enemy, infidel, worshipers of the Cross, traitors, barbarous, ignorant and "perros cristianos, las peores de las criaturas".
This feeling evolved from the practice of taqîya, of the first years to the apostasy of the period that preceded the War of Alpujarras. Inquisitorial records contain testimonies of the punishments against Moriscos for their open apostasy and for saying injurious words against Christians and Christianity. Some of the Moriscos’ confessions include the reasons for following the Muslim dietary prescriptions. These reasons include the deep belief that their religious practices were more conducive to going to heaven than Christian ones, and because their law was considered good. Reasons for not following the Christian rules include being a Moor deep in the heart and because it would be a sin not to follow Islam.
4.3. New Equilibrium and Food Identity
The fact that Moriscos wanted to conserve the Andalusian culinary system and, at the same time, to accept voluntarily the consumption of wine -a forbidden product which have a religious identity- transformed the awareness of food identity among Moriscos. The Moriscos' drunken episodes indicate that they gave free reign to their desires since they lacked any authorities to prohibit it. The qasîda did not mention any pressure for drinking wine; on the contrary, Castilian authorities were trying to put an end to their drunken behaviour. The final effect would be a new equilibrium of the system, reinforcing the importance of rules on fasting, ritual slaughtering and consumption of pork.
A) If during the first period Muslims decided to retain their customs, why did they drink wine? And why did they drink after conversion? The first reason was that the Islamic prohibition of wine was vague. In Mohammed's first revelations wine was one of Paradise's pleasures. He next mentioned its disadvantages and then recommended that drunkards not go to the Mosque. Finally, Mohammed banned wine for being a satanic manifestation. The juridical schools tried to decide which was the wine that Mohammed talked about and which were the lawful and unlawful drinks; but the fact that some of his sayings were imprecise or contradictory made it more difficult to decide. Anyway, there were schools that rejected completely all the alcoholic drinks and others that tolerated some of then. The benefits that the Koran recognised in wine and the medical and dietary virtues that Andalusian treatises conferred to it should help to explain why the opposition to it was not so powerful.
There were other reasons related to the extraordinary situation in which Moriscos were living. Taqîya allowed the consumption of any forbidden product, wine included. Moreover, the action of the Inquisition’s system of denunciation could stimulate the consumption of wine as an element of integration. Living in a society that required Moriscos to integrate quickly the easiest way to accomplish this might have been drinking in public and refusing foods in private. In private it would have been more difficult to find witnesses ready to inform authorities of their behaviour. In fact, the examples from Inquisition documents on eating at home do not mention the rejection of wine.
B) If taqîya permitted the consumption of any product and the Inquisition was looking for signs of integration, why did Moriscos reject bacon and meat not ritually killed? The answer is in the Islamic precepts. According to the Koran the consumption of carrion, blood and pork was unclean but also an act of faith: "it is not meat or blood that reaches Allah but people’s piety, because Allah made those rules to subject people to his service". That is, these rules were a direct mandate of Allah. As a result, the consumption of those products was both an act of impurity and disobedience. It was, accordingly, a sin that no Morisco wanted to commit in spite of the obvious value of integration.
The ritual of slaughtering was the method of bleeding the animal. The pronunciation of the sentence: "In the name of Allah, the greatest", and the position of the animal towards Mecca’s direction made permissible (halâl) the flesh of the animal and cancelled the simple wish of killing it. As a consequence, the rejection of bacon and the sacrifice of meat were normal at home.
The Koran prohibited eating any product blessed for Christians. The bacon that Castilians offered to the Granadian Moriscos had the aim of proving their Christianity and carried a religious meaning. Thus, Muslim rejection of bacon became an anti-identity action, because bacon was very strongly identified with the Christian world. There was, regarding bacon, another practical reason: bacon could easily be replaced with other animal fats or with olive oil.
4.4. Eating as a Moor?
A) The references to "eating as a Moor", which appear in the documentation especially from the second half of the sixteenth century, can be understood in a strict sense as following the dietary rules of Islam. This was a consciously adopted choice, which was based on respect for one's own religious principles when taqîya was no longer a solution of dignity. In this way, in 1572 María, upon being offered a cazuela prepared with bacon stated: "no quiero yo perder mi ley por amor de mi estómago".
B) The choice of "eating as a Moor" was based also on the conscious transgression of Christian dietary laws, especially not fasting on Fridays or during Lent. For example, one of the Moriscos accused by the Inquisition said that: "la carne que comió en viernes y otros días prohividos, que la comió como moro y que savía que todo hera contra la ley de los christianos". The blind opposition demonstrated toward the major Christian religious precepts created a mirror image. In opposition to the 10 Christian Commandments Moriscos had the 14 Commandments of Mohammed, which included eating bacon and then throwing it up and drinking no wine.
C) Eating as a Moor meant also preparing Andalusian dishes. For example, Fernando Ramos said that "en su casa guisaba de comer para sí como era moro". These dishes were surely those that Castilians more often prohibited. The Morisco desire to be different from Castilians resulted in the exaggeration of some Morisco food customs that originally had no religious meaning. In this way, olive oil, initially one of the cuisine’s fats, became an identity element in place of butter or other animal fats. The consumption of breads made of barley, Italian millet or spelt, typical of the rural areas, became also an identity element; is difficult to explain the use of these grains in a period in which the culture of wheat was extensively developed over the Kingdom of Granada.
D) Eating as a moor meant, finally, to continue with the practices related with food, such as the use of low tables, the blessing of the food, eating with the hands, using special crockery, etc. For example, Jerónima la Franca and her family together with other Moriscos "se pusieron en cuclillas y echaron alcuzcuz en una batea, y todas con ésta a la redonda, comían del alcuzcus con la mano haciendo pellizcas".
E) This culinary system represented the Morisco system of life, independently of the religious facts. For example, Alonso, a Morisco slave, in 1579 replied to the question of whether he believed that acting as a Moor he would be saved as follows: "en quanto a salvarse que Dios lo sabe, y en quanto yr al cielo que no se sabe nada, que no entiende sino de comer y beber".
WAS THE CASTILIAN UNITARY IDEOLOGY A SUCCESS?
The flourishing literature that justified the expulsion of Moriscos reflected a negative view of Morisco food habits. This fact was due as much to the importance of religious customs, as to the powerlessness and resistance of this community to being integrated, as to the fear to Moriscos. The unitary ideology was still working in this anti-Morisco literature and had two effects on the Castilian discourse. The first one was to scorn Moriscos as an invidious social and religious group. Moriscos were, accordingly, heretics, apostates, blasphemous, sorcerers, sodomites, dogmatists, plagiarists, traitors to his Majesty, unrefined people, miserable, inexpressive and hard headed, with an objective to multiply themselves. Regarding food, Moriscos were unrefined in their eating, and the things Morisco ate were vile. After that, nobody could think about the possibility of a Castilian eating any Morisco product.
This was the discourse, but the practice was different. In spite of the theoretic rejection of certain types of dishes, Castilians had many examples of unintentional borrowing. Some sweet fritters such as buñuelos, rosquillas, almojábanas and alfeñique were widely consumed in the sixteenth century, becoming later a part of Castilian cuisine. Moreover there was a penetration of certain Morisco recipes in peninsular cookbooks, representing exotic airs and connotations of luxury associated with cuisine destined for the nobility. This is the case of Rupert de Nola's cookbook, which includes squash and eggplant Moorish style, soups in which bacon was used for sauté; although the author pointed that it is possible to sauté using sweet oil "porque los Moros no comen tocino" .
The comparison between the way in which the ideology of unitary identity worked at the beginning of the sixteenth century and how it worked at the beginning of the seventeenth proves that this ideology had failed. Before the conquest of al-Andalus there was theoretical food tolerance toward other cultures food but a practical rejection of Andalusian cuisine. After the expulsion there was a theoretical rejection towards Morisco foodways but a practical consumption of some Morisco foods.
Early Modern Castile had no place for cultural and religious differences. Castilians paradoxically tried to accelerate Morisco integration by segregating them. The resistance of Moriscos to assimilation was a success because eventually Castilians could not change or assimilate them in the Castilian society; the expulsion could be interpreted, accordingly, as a sign of the Castilian failure. At the same time Castilian policy was a success, because the resistance of Moriscos to be integration was not enough to stop the transformation of their indoor food ways. It was by means of the interaction and opposition to Castilian society that Moriscos internalised food as an important identifying element in the reinforcement of their social identity as Moriscos.
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Revisado - Updated: 27/06/2004
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