The Delectable War between Mutton and the Refreshments of the Market-Place. Rereading the Curious Tale of the Mamluk Era
Lewicka, Paulina B.
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At some point in XV century, or in the decadent period of the Circassian Mamluk era, certain Aḥmad Ibn Yaḥyā Ibn Ḥasan al-Ḥaǧǧār, apparently a resident of Cairo, composed a curious narrative titled Kitāb al-ḥarb al-maʿšūq bayna laḥm aḍ-ḍaʾn wa-ḥawāḍir as-sūq. In 1932-4 the work was partly translated, under the title The Delectable War between Mutton and the Refreshments of the Market-Place, by Joshua Finkel who also provided the translation with the summary of the text and extensive comments. Since that date the tale was summarized a number of times in contemporary studies and there is no need to retell its story once again. In the context of the present study it probably suffices to say that Delectable War features a conflict between two camps, each of which is represented by a significant number of personified edible goods. In other words, various meats, animal fats and meat dishes, led by the mutton-called here King Mutton-fight the camp of meat-free foods that is led by King Honey. The cause is not always clear but, according to the most obvious understanding, the prominence over all the foodstuffs is at stake, both of those in the bazaar and those on the table.