If your idea of a good time is reading medieval literature and extrapolating glorious menus and meals from the contents, then you probably have somewhere to be this Saturday morning. Specifically, in the audience to hear a talk given by food historian Charles Perry on food in The Arabian Nights. Called “A Thousand and One Fritters” (very catchy, that), the talk will be at Mark Taper Auditorium at the downtown public library at 10:30, and will be followed by themed refreshments. Themed refreshments? No idea, but that enough seems worth the trek.

Perry, who is the president and co-founder of the Culinary Historians of Southern California, a major contributor to the Oxford Companion to Food, a longtime staff writer for the Los Angeles Times food section and an expert on medieval and Arab cuisine, will consider the food of the classic text based on readings of medieval Arab cookbooks. According to the Culinary Historians' press release, “we can at last know what 'The Lad Who Ate Zirbaja' actually ate, why the cook shop owner in 'The Tale of the Two Wazirs' was threatened with crucifixion for leaving out the pepper in the dish of pomegranate seeds, and what on earth all those fritters were that the translators keep mentioning.” Who knew that the medieval Arab world was preoccupied with fritters.

A Thousand and One Fritters, a talk by Charles Perry: Saturday, January 14th, 10:30 a.m. at the Los Angeles Public Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, Downtown Central Library, 630 W. 5th St. A reception with food follows the talk, at approx. 11:30 a.m. Free and open to the public.

LA Weekly