Sweet ‘n Golden Vermicelli Noodles
A popular dessert steeped in the history of fine dining in medieval Baghdad. Sha’riyya is mostly sold in the form of balls (also called ‘nests’), available at Middle Eastern stores. I once tried it with a more nutritious variety made with whole wheat, but my children were diplomatically discouraging. “It was good,” they assured me, “but don’t make it any more.” Never underestimate the lure of a fine noodle.
For recipe, follow this link:
(Delights from the Garden, p. 415)
Layered Baklawa Diamonds
Baklawa takes several shapes, but the most traditional is the rhomboidal (like diamonds), to the extent that anything shaped like this is described as being baklawa-like.
In fact, not only baklawa is shaped thus. Many traditional halwa desserts (condensed puddings) and candies are usually served cut out into diamonds, sometimes called lawzeena (almond-shaped).
Apparently, our fondness for this shape is rooted in the deepest folds of our ancient history. Keep reading.
See Chapter 16 in Delights from the Garden of Eden, pp. 426-34, for delicious baklawa recipes and history.
The Rhombus Allure
The rhomboid, like the triangle, was a very familiar symbol in ancient Mesopotamia. In their art, it was closely associated with the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. She was the goddess of love, fertility, war and sex, and the rhombus was taken to symbolize her genitalia.
Several clay figurines shaped like triangles and rhomboids were excavated in her temple at Ashur. Apparently people believed in their magical amuletic properties, and used them for protection.
Babylonian incantations composed to help cure impotency, ask that such figurines be made and put at the head of the bed during sexual acts.
So perhaps our fondness for cutting out our pastries and candies into rhomboidal shapes has its distant and deep roots in such indigenous ancient practices and beliefs. We eat the food and pray for its protective powers through the ancient science of seductive geometry.