Just like coriander or olive oil, the aubergine became a signal of identity for Arabs and Jews in the Middle Ages. This recipe by Ruperto de Nola illustrates how cuisine, just like culture, picks up a little from here and there, creating something of its own in the process.
Heat 200 ml mineral water along with the milk and 40 g of butter. Mix sugar, yeast and both types of flour in a bowl and slowly add the liquids. Knead for 7 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Make balls from the dough and place in mini oval silicone moulds. Ferment for about 1 hr. Steam in an oven at 100°C for 3 minutes.
Prepare a water bath at 60°C. Beat the egg yolks in the smaller bowl. Drizzle the rest of the melted butter into the eggs and emulsify them together. Add the ground ginger. Set aside.
Cut the aubergines in half, score them, and season with oil and salt. Roast for 30 minutes or an hour or until they have a uniform golden colour and are tender inside. Remove from the oven and scoop out the pulp. Blend together with cumin for 5 minutes at high speed to a fine purée. Add salt to taste. Pass through a fine sieve and set aside.
Put 200 g of cane syrup, 100 ml of mineral water and the agar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. When it boils, remove and spread 30 g each in 15 cm x 20 cm trays. Remove bubbles if necessary using a kitchen blow torch. Allow to cool and use an oval mould to cut the gelatin. Set aside in plastic wrap.
Fry the bread in seed oil until golden. Slice it open, carefully hollow out the bread using tongs and fill with the aubergine purée. Cover with the syrup gelatin, avoiding wrinkles or folds. It should be smooth and uniform. Use tweezers to make an incision in the gelatin and insert a garlic flower. Garnish with the fresh cheese. Drizzle a little egg yolk emulsion on top.
The first cookbook published in Castilian Spanish was a translation of the 1520 Catalan edition of Ruberto de Nola's recipe book, El Llibre del Coch. Many of the recipes are based on Llibre de Sent Soví, a medieval cookbook, although it adds some recipes of Occitan, French, Italian and Arab origin. It was a bestseller at the time. It went through five editions in Catalan and many more in Castilian Spanish yet it did not contain a single Castilian recipe.See the book