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Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon Hardcover – October 31, 2006

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Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon + The New Book of Middle Eastern Food + Jerusalem: A Cookbook
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Roden, a leading authority on Middle Eastern and North African food and the James Beard Award–winning author of The Book of Jewish Food, provides a thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating look at the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. Including bits of history, stories and more that 150 recipes, Roden reworks the classics, making them easier and more flavorful for today's home cook. By organizing the book by country, she makes it easy to plan meals from the same country or combine various recipes from each. In each recipe, flavors are exquisitely balanced, as in Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup; Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives; Turkish Lamb Stew with Eggplant Sauce and Roasted Quinces; or Squabs Stuffed with Date and Almond Paste. She gives proper homage to the Lebanese tradition of serving mezze—little appetizers served with drinks—such as Eggplant and Tahini Dip (Baba Ghanouj) and Spinach Pies. The simple desserts bring out some of the same ingredients from savory dishes such as nuts (in Pistachio Cake; Milk and Almond Pudding) as well as flowers, like Tiny Open Pancakes with Cream and Rose Petal Jam, or orange blossom water in Kataifi with Cream Filling. 93 color photos. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Roden triumphs again, this time with a closer look at three different traditions within Arab cuisine: Moroccan, Turkish, and Lebanese. Although these cooking styles share many common traits, each is unique, distinctive, and worth exploring in an American kitchen. Moroccan food features fragrant braised stews called tagines that Roden shows how to re-create without elaborate equipment. She also contributes a useful method for making preserved lemons that reduces their preparation from a month to four days. Vegetarians can profit from exploring the many Turkish dishes based on eggplant, beans, and other vegetables. Little Lebanon has much to recommend beyond its fragrantly spiced, savory national dish of lamb and cracked wheat called kibbee. All three cuisines call for special attention to fine pastry in creating appetizers, entrees, and desserts. In addition to her recipes, Roden offers intriguing descriptions of regional specialties and street food that expand readers' understanding of these national traditions while enticing them into the kitchen. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030726498X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307264985
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.2 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claudia Roden was born in Cairo, educated in Paris and London, where she has lived for many years. Widely admired as both a great cook and a fine writer, she has written classic works on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookery and, most recently, her award-winning The Book of Jewish Food.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 138 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Arabesque' by the distinguished Egypto-English culinary journalist, Claudia Roden is a culinary travelogue that, according to the subtitle, gives us `A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon'. Ms. Roden states that the choice of these three cuisines was based on the fact that in each of the three countries, there has been something of a Renaissance of ancient culinary traditions and techniques, backed up by the fact that the culinary traditions of all three centers of Arab culture were outstanding to begin with, going back to the eighth century for Morocco and Lebanon and to the even more distinguished background of the Ottoman Turkish cuisines, both original and borrowed from the earlier Persian traditions.

There is no question that these three geographical centers are tied together by their Moslem heritage; however it may be just a bit of a stretch to consider them all to be based on Arab traditions, as Morocco had a strong native Berber influence, as well as more recent French influences and the Turks were, I believe not really Arab. But I will not quibble, as Arab influences, especially in their traditions of hospitality show up in all three culinary histories.

It is important to take Ms. Roden's subtitle seriously in that this book is more of a taste than it is a `full course meal'. This book is much more like the `culinary travelogue' books `Hot Sour Salty Sweet' and `Mangoes and Curry Leaves' of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid than it is like Roden's earlier works, `The Food of Italy' and `The New Book of Middle Eastern Food'. It is also certainly not like Paula Wolfert's excellent books of culinary anthropology such as `Couscous' and `The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean'.

And, this is not a book for the amateur tourist.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on August 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a modern version of the author's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. In other words it contains a lot of amazing pictures and fewer recipes. This is also a book made at the request of the publisher. At the time the author apparently wanted to include Syria and Iran as well, but those were "axis of evil" countries and including them would reduce sales according to the publisher [interview available on the web]. The book is not bad, but I would stick to the author's original any day.

Finally, I really hate when the same author publishes similar books but doesn't tell the potential readers how they differ.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One expects the best from Claudia Roden, and this book does not disappoint. Some of us remember how her "Book of Middle Eastern Food" burst like a great white light on the culinary scene, way back in 1968. (There is now an even better second edition, 2000.) The present book recycles some recipes from earlier works, but focuses on three particularly good areas, and has absolutely top-flight recipes from them, sparing you the problem of wading through a vast mass of text.

Just a couple of quick supplemental comments from some experience: First, there is one bad thing about this book: Ms. Roden's tolerance for bouillon cubes. Their metallic, rancid-grease taste ruins Middle Eastern food. Use homemade stock or just omit. Second, Turkish food isn't "Arab," it really does depend heavily on Turkic roots, plus Greek and Persian influences--only a few Arab ones. And the publishers have badly served the Turkish section by using dotted i's for undotted ones. These write different sounds: the dotted i is the "ee" sound, the undotted is approximately the "uh" sound. This could cause confusion if you ask for ingredients or dishes. One more note on Turkey: For Turkish food, especially the salads, you have to use not just extra virgin olive oil, but Turkish extra virgin oil, or something very similar (Lebanese or the finest Kalamata or Italian). Yep, it costs, so much so that one dish is named "The Imam Fainted" because--according to one story--he found out the cost of the oil in the dish (p. 168)!

Finally, Ms. Roden notes that argan oil, a wonderful if obscure oil from southern Morocco, is regarded as "aphrodisiac." Actually, a mixture of argan oil, honey, and ground almonds is called "Moroccan Viagra" in that part of the world.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Eric Oehler on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Roden is undeniably an expert on the foods of the Middle East and North Africa. Here she throws three fairly disparate cuisines from the region at us - Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. There's some overlap in ingredients, but for the most part these are very different ways of looking at some of the same foods. That in itself is interesting, although her linkage between the cuisines - that they were all major imperial centers that traded with other cultures - is less interesting than the food itself.

There's some overlap with her other cookbooks, as a lot of the lebanese food was covered in her Middle Eastern tome, and a few other things like her recipes for preserved lemons seem lifted intact from the same book. There're also a few minor lingustic annoyances - no notes on transliterations, much of the Turkish is lacking the proper dotless-i's and circumflexed-g's, cedillas and umlauts (all of which I consider nice for pronunciation reasons). Nonetheless, the food itself is fascinating, as are her notes on the ingredients and preparations. It's particularly fascinating in her sections on Turkey and Morocco, which are areas that have been less covered by her other books (or in fact most cookbooks at all).

It's not a comprehensive book, by any means, but it does provide a very engaging overview of three major and very different world cuisines.
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