Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East (Publications on the Near East) University of Washington Press ed Edition by Ralph S. Hattox (University of Washington Press)

This book presents a history of coffee and controversies related to it within the Arab world, especially the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, and Turkey. It includes 16 historical illustrations, depicting various serving implements for coffee and coffee establishments covering approximately 300 years. The scholarly style of the text may not be easy to follow for the general reader, especially readers who are not familiar with some basic Arabic naming conventions and structure. However, the research seems to be exceedingly well done and documented. The focus on coffee-related controversies can be somewhat disorienting, since the author assumes from the beginning that the reader will have some idea of the extent of the controversies and may even be able to speculate on their causes. The description of the legal opinions concerning coffee is quite clear, and could even help readers develop an understanding of more general questions of Islamic law. The author's comments on social change are also very lucid and worth reading for anyone interested in material culture.

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