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破译世界上最古老的食谱“炖羊肉”

The world's oldest-known recipes decoded
破译世界上最古老的食谱“炖羊肉”

The instructions for lamb stew read more like a list of ingredients than a bona fide recipe: “Meat is used. You prepare water. You add fine-grained salt, dried barley cakes, onion, Persian shallot, and milk. You crush and add leek and garlic.” But it’s impossible to ask the chef to reveal the missing pieces: This recipe’s writer has been dead for some 4,000 years.

炖羊肉的食谱读起来更像是配料表,而不是真正的烹饪方法:“用肉;准备水;加入细盐、干大麦饼、洋葱、波斯青葱和牛奶;捣碎后加入韭菜和大蒜。”但是,要让厨师补回缺失的部分是不可能的,因为这份食谱的作者已经去世约4000年了。

Instead, a team of international scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry and cuneiform (the Babylonian system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia) have been working to recreate this dish and three others from the world’s oldest-known recipes. It’s a sort of culinary archaeology that uses tablets from Yale University’s Babylonian Collection to gain a deeper understanding of that culture through the lens of taste.

然而,一群精通烹饪历史、食品学和楔形文字(巴比伦的文字系统,最早由美索不达米亚的古代苏美尔人发明和使用)的国际学者正努力发掘世界上最古老的食谱,试图恢复其中几道菜。这是一种烹饪考古研究,利用耶鲁大学(Yale University)古巴比伦的系列收藏(Babylonian Collection),希望通过味道来更深入地了解那种文化。
 

“It’s like trying to reconstruct a song; a single note can make all the difference,” said Gojko Barjamovic, pointing to the paperback-sized tablets under glass at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Barjamovic, a Harvard University Assyriology expert, retranslated the tablets and put together the interdisciplinary team tasked with bringing the recipes back to life.

“这就如同重现一首歌,”哈佛大学(Harvard University)的亚述学(Assyriology)专家巴尔贾默维奇(Gojko Barjamovic)指着耶鲁皮博迪自然历史博物馆(Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)展柜玻璃下的楔形文字石板说。巴尔贾默维奇重新翻译了这些文字,并组建了一个跨学科团队,负责让这些配方重现生机。

Three of Yale’s tablets date to around 1730BC, and a fourth is from about 1,000 years later. All of the tablets are from the Mesopotamian region, which includes Babylon and Assyria – what is today the regions of Iraq south of Baghdad and north of Baghdad, including parts of Syria and Turkey. Of the older three tablets, the most intact is more of a listing of ingredients that amounts to 25 recipes of stews and broths; the other two, containing an additional 10-plus recipes, go further in depth with cooking instructions and presentation suggestions, but those are broken and therefore not as legible.

耶鲁大学收藏的三块石板可追溯到公元前1730年左右,第四块石板晚大约1000年。所有石板都来自美索不达米亚地区(Mesopotamian region),包括巴比伦和亚述,也就是今天的伊拉克,巴格达以南和以北地区,加上叙利亚和土耳其的部分地区。在较早的三个石板中,最完整的是一份清单,相当于25种炖菜和肉汤;另外两份清单包含10多个食谱,里面有烹饪说明和演示建议,但都是破碎的,因此不太清晰。

The challenge was to peel back the layers of history while also maintaining authenticity amid the limitations of modern ingredients.

挑战在于,如何在现代材料的限制下,在保持真实性的同时,剥开历史的重重迷雾。

“They’re not very informative recipes – maybe four lines long – so you are making a lot of assumptions,” said Pia Sorensen, a Harvard University food chemist who worked, along with Harvard Science and Cooking Fellow Patricia Jurado Gonzalez, on perfecting the proportions of ingredients using a scientific approach of hypothesis, controls and variables.

“他们不是很丰富的食谱——也许只有四行字,所以你需要很多猜想,”哈佛大学食品学家索伦森(Pia Sorensen)说。索伦森与哈佛大学科学和烹饪学者冈萨雷斯(Jurado Gonzalez)一起,通过假设、控制和变量完善原料的比例配方。

“All of the food materials today and 4,000 years ago are the same: a piece of meat is basically a piece of meat. From a physics point of view, the process is the same. There is a science there that is the same today as it was 4,000 years ago,” Jurado Gonzalez said.

“今天所有的食物材料和4000年前是一样的:一块肉基本上就是一块肉。从物理学的观点来看,没什么不同。这是科学。”

The food scientists used what they know about human tastes, preparation essentials that don’t drastically change over time, and what they hypothesised might be correct ingredient proportions to come up with their best guess as to the closest approximation of an authentic recipe.

食品科学家们利用他们对人类口味的了解、确定食谱不会随时间发生剧烈变化,进而推断出最接近真实配方的配料比例。

“This idea that we can be guided by what works – if it’s too liquidy, it’s going to be a soup. By looking at the material parameters, we can zoom in on what it is” – in most cases, a stew, Sorensen said.

他说:“我们可以根据有效的方法来实验,如果液体太多,就会变成汤。通过观察材料参数,在大多数的炖菜中,我们可以近距离看出它是什么。”索伦森说。

What the researchers revealed shows, in part, the evolution of a lamb stew that is still prevalent in Iraq, hand-in-hand with a glimpse back in time at the “haute cuisine of Mesopotamia” that highlights the sophistication of 4,000-year-old chefs, said Agnete Lassen, associate curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection.

研究人员发现,炖羊肉的演变在伊拉克仍然很普遍,时光倒流,让人回想起“美索不达米亚的高级美食和4,000年前厨师技艺的精妙”。耶鲁巴比伦收藏馆的副馆长拉森(Agnete Lassen)说。

The four dishes culled from the list-style tablet also each have unique uses. Pashrutum, for example, is a soup one might serve someone suffering from a cold, Lassen said, though the meaning of this bland broth accented by leek, coriander and onion flavours translates as “unwinding”. Elamite broth (“mu elamutum”), on the other hand, is among two foreign (or “Zukanda”) dishes listed in the tablets, Barjamovic said.

从石板中挑选出来的四道菜也各有其独特的用途。拉森说,例如,帕士鲁塔(Pashrutum)是一种适合感冒患者的汤,不过这种清淡的肉汤带有韭菜、香菜和洋葱的味道,翻译过来就是“放松”的意思。巴尔贾默维奇说,另一方面,埃兰肉汤(Elamite)是列在石板上的两道外国菜肴之一。

He equates this to the present-day ubiquity of “foreign” dishes like lasagne or skyr or hummus that have been taken out of their homeland and adapted to new palates, and are indicative of contact between neighbouring cultures.

他把这与如今无处不在的“外国”菜肴相提并论,比如千层面、脱脂酸奶或鹰嘴豆泥,它们被带出祖国,演化新的口味,显示出相邻文化之间的联系。

“There is a notion of ‘cuisine’ in these 4,000-year-old texts. There is food which is ‘ours’ and food that is ‘foreign,’” Barjamovic said. “Foreign is not bad – only different, and sometimes apparently worth cooking, since they give us the recipe.”

“在这些4000年历史的文献中有一个烹饪的概念。有‘本国’食物,也有‘外国’食物。”巴尔贾默维奇说:“外国菜还不错,只是不同而已,而且有时候看起来还值得一做,因为他们给了我们菜谱。”

Though its blood-based broth would be completely forbidden by today’s Islamic and Jewish tradition, the Elamite broth dish originated in what is now Iran, and also uses dill, an ingredient not otherwise mentioned among the tablets, Barjamovic and Lassen said. This is a distinction still apparent today: Iraqi cuisine rarely uses dill, whereas it is common in Iranian cuisine, which may indicate the pattern was established millennia ago, Barjamovic said. Nasrallah notes the “foreign” designation is indicative of trade between the two cultures, and an appreciation for tastes not commonly associated with local cuisine. The Babylonians might have associated the taste of dill with Elamite cuisine in the same way that we associate fresh coriander with Hispanic foods, Nasrallah said.

巴尔贾默维奇和拉森说,尽管掺有血液的肉汤在今天的伊斯兰和犹太教传统中是完全禁止的,但这道埃兰肉汤起源于现在的伊朗,而且还使用了莳萝,这种成分在石板菜谱中没有提到。巴尔贾默维奇说,这是一个今天仍然很明显的区别:伊拉克菜很少使用莳萝,而伊朗菜中却很常见,这种模式可能在几千年前就已经形成了。烹饪史和伊拉克美食专家纳斯拉拉(Nawal Nasrallah)指出,“外国”的称号象征着两种文化之间的交流,以及对异国口味的欣赏。纳斯拉拉说,巴比伦人可能把莳萝的味道和埃兰菜联系在一起,就像我们把新鲜的胡荽和西班牙食物联系在一起一样。

There’s also an element of showmanship and skill that carries over among chefs through the millennia, the researchers noted. Just as today’s molecular gastronomers might delight in plating a dish to play with diners’ expectations, so, too, did Mesopotamian chefs in preparing elaborate feasts fit for high society. Think: the Ferran Adrià flourish of ancient Assyria.

研究人员指出,在数千年的历史中,厨师们一直保留着表演的元素。就像今天的美食厨师喜欢用精美装盘来迎合食客的期望一样,美索不达米亚的厨师也会为上流社会准备精致的大餐。想想看:古代亚述也有阿德里亚(Ferran Adrià,西班牙著名厨师)这样的厨神。

One dish resembles a chicken pot pie, with layers of dough and chunks of bird smothered by a sort of Babylonian béchamel sauce, said culinary historian and Iraqi cuisine expert Nawal Nasrallah, whose research on medieval Arabic foods helped tie the ancient tablets to later cooking techniques from the same region. Its presentation also contains an element of surprise, she said. The bird dish was served covered by a crusty lid, which diners then opened to reveal the meat inside. It’s a food-within-a-food technique Nasrallah sees repeated in the 10th-Century Baghdadi cookbook Kitab al-Tabikh (“Cookery Book”), describing local medieval traditions, and again in modern Iraqi cuisine.

纳斯拉拉说,石板菜谱中的一道菜类似于鸡肉锅饼,上面有一层层的面团和大块的鸡肉被一种巴比伦奶油酱严严裹住。她说,这道菜令人惊喜之处在于,食客揭开上面的脆皮,就看到里面的肉。纳斯拉拉指出10世纪巴格达迪食谱(Kitab al-Tabikh)中反复提到这种美食,描述了当地中世纪的烹饪传统,在现代伊拉克美食界也有体现。

“Today, in the Arab world and particularly in Iraq, we pride ourselves in stuffed dishes like dolma. We kind of inherited this tendency of showmanship of cooks,” Nasrallah said. “In this way, I was really fascinated by the continuity of the cuisine and what has survived.”

“今天,在阿拉伯世界,尤其是在伊拉克,我们为道尔玛(dolma)这样的有馅食品自豪。我们某种程度上继承了厨师表演的倾向,”纳斯拉拉说。“就这样,我真的被这个菜系的延续性和保存下来的东西迷住了。”

This sophistication of preparation in the Babylonian food includes the use of colourful ingredients like saffron or coriander, parsley and chard to appeal to the eye and the palate, as well as employing a fish sauce sourced from the abundance of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to add an umami element to the dishes, Nasrallah said. Today’s stews from the region are usually red, from tomatoes (which arrived centuries later), but the flavour elements of cumin, coriander, mint, garlic and onions are still recognisable. Rendered sheep’s tail fat (in Arabic, alya) for instance, was considered a delicacy and an “indispensable ingredient in Iraq, until around the 1960s", Nasrallah said.

在巴比伦食物的制作过程中,包括使用诸如番红花或香菜、欧芹和甜菜等色彩鲜艳的食材来吸引人的眼球和味蕾,并使用从底格里斯河和幼发拉底河产中提取的鱼露来提鲜。纳斯拉拉说,这是菜肴的鲜味元素。今天来自该地区的炖菜通常是红色的,上色的是西红柿(这在食谱写成后几个世纪后才出现),但仍然可以识别小茴香、香菜、薄荷、大蒜和洋葱的味道。纳斯拉拉说,例如,以绵羊的尾巴脂肪(阿拉伯语为alya)为美味,并且“直到1960年代仍是伊拉克菜必不可缺的成分”。

“I see the same tendency from ancient times to today; we don’t just add salt and black pepper, we add a combination of spices to enhance the aroma, to enhance the flavour, and we don’t just add it all at once, we add it in stages and we allow the stew to simmer,” Nasrallah said.

“从古代到今天,我看到了同样的趋势;我们不只是加入盐和黑胡椒,我们还加入了各种香料来增加香味,增加味道,我们不是一次全部加进去,我们是分阶段加进去的,我们让肉慢慢炖烂。”

The lamb stew, me-e puhadi, is meant to be eaten with barley cakes crumbled into the liquid, as one might do today with bread to sop up a soup. The scholars’ resulting version of the dish offers a hearty taste and texture teased out from months of trial and error and by using the scientific method of variables and controls to unravel the recipe’s mysteries. They realised, for example, when the inclusion of soapwort, a perennial plant sometimes used as a mild soap, was a mistranslation: adding this ingredient in any measure made the resulting dish bitter, frothy and unpalatable. Similarly, levels of seasonings have a threshold: there is an amount of salt in any dish, whether 4,000 years ago or today, that will render it inedible, they said.

炖羊肉是用大麦饼蘸着汤吃的,就像今天人们用面包蘸汤一样。学者们经过几个月的反复试验,通过变量和控制的科学方法,揭开了这道菜的神秘面纱,最终做出来的这道菜口感醇厚、细腻。例如,他们意识到,把肥皂草(soapwort,一种多年生植物,有时用作温和的肥皂)加入菜中是一种错误,不论添加多少这种成分,都会使菜变得苦涩、侬软、难吃。同样,调味料的含量也有一个临界值。他们说,无论4000年前还是今天,任何一道菜中都有一定的盐含量,超过了就不能食用。

Modern eaters might recognise elements of several cultures’ comfort foods in these Mesopotamian meals. Tuh’u, for instance, uses red beetroots and shares similarities with both the borscht prevalent in Ashkenazi cuisine, as well as a stew prevalent among Iraqi Jews called Kofta Shawandar Hamudh (meatballs with sweet and sour beetroots), according to Nasrallah. The lamb stew, likewise, calls for meat sautéed in sheep-tail’s fat. A close cousin to the stew might be Iraqi pacha, a dish Nasrallah remembers her mother cooking that uses all the parts of the sheep, preparing the carcass in similar ways as are described in the tablets.

现代食客可能在这些美索不达米亚的食物中发现了几种文化的元素。例如,Tuh'u中的红色甜菜根,它与德国犹太人普遍使用的罗宋汤,以及伊拉克犹太人喜爱的一种甜酸甜菜根和肉丸烹制的炖菜有相似之处。同样,炖羊肉也需要用羊尾脂肪来炒。与炖肉类似的可能是伊拉克的一种叫帕恰(pasha)的菜, 纳斯拉拉记得她的母亲用羊的各个部位做菜,用石板菜谱描述的方法类似。

“I was really surprised to find that what is a staple in Iraq today, which is a stew, is also a staple from ancient times, because in Iraq today, that is our daily meal: stew and rice with a bread,” Nasrallah said. “It is really fascinating to see how such a simple dish, with all its infinite variety, has survived from ancient times to present, and in those Babylonian recipes, I see not even the beginnings; they already had reached sophisticated levels in cooking those dishes. So who knows how much earlier they began?”

纳斯拉拉说:“我很惊讶地发现,今天伊拉克的主食是炖菜,也是古代的主食。在今天的伊拉克,这就是我们的日常饭菜:炖菜加米饭或面包,看到如此简单的菜品变化无穷,从古代到现在如何延续,真是令人着迷。在古巴比伦的食谱中,我甚至都没看到它的源头。食谱中烹饪这些菜肴已经达到了很高的水平。谁又知道这道菜起源的时间呢?”
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