Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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The Bakers & The Salt-Makers
Detail of an Ottoman parade. Turkish, 1720. Click for complete painting.

The Bakers, those columns of faith, have as their patron Adam, for in the Qur'an it is said, "This is the tree, and you will be of the unjust." This was the corn-tree which Adam was forbidden to eat; having transgressed God's command, he was exiled to earth, where Gabriel again brought him corn, which he boiled and made into soup. Thence came the invitation, "Come let us eat the Father's soup together." Gabriel then taught Adam to grind corn into flour, and bake it into bread, which he ate while it was yet warm; hence Adam became patron of the bakers.

The Bakers have many assistants. They ride at public procession on wagons, some kneading, some baking and some throwing small loaves of bread into the crowd. They make for this occasion immense loaves the size of a cupola, covered with sesame and fennel; these are carried on great litters, wagons and rafts, dragged along by many pairs of oxen. Since no oven can hold such large loaves, they bake them in pits made for that purpose, where the loaf is covered with cinders, and from its sides baked slowly by fire. It is worthwhile to see it. Besides these they bake small breads and cakes called Ramazan pideh, sumun, and lawasha.

The patron of the Salt-makers is Abraham. When he had finished building the Kaa'ba, there remained a small quantity of earth in a trough, and he begged of God a reward for the service he had just performed. The Lord said to him, "If you wish for blessing, give your son into the hands of a master, that he may be taught something, clothe the naked, and satisfy the hungry, then you shall receive your reward." Abraham said, "O Lord! How shall I satisfy the hungry?" The Lord replied, "Take the earth, which remains in the trough. Throw a part of it to the East, a part to the West, a part to the North, and a part to the South; and say, 'this is my repast, Creatures of God make haste!' Abraham having done as the Lord commanded, the wind dispersed the dust all over the earth, and wherever it fell salt began to grow, which ever since is the repast of Abraham and of which all creatures partake. A wonderful mystery!

Bread stamps, Egypt, 5th-7th/11th-13th century.

The salt-makers are the bakers' assistants, for bread will not do without salt. They pass along with them, all armed, representing the art of clearing salt, and distribute it, saying, Tuz etmek hakki itshun, "For the sake of salt and bread."