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Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean Hardcover – May 2, 2006
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“This book beautifully codifies the marvelous dishes I’ve eaten at Oleana, all of which bear her special inventive touch.” (Paula Wolfert, author of The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean)
“A thousand and one nights worth of cooking. . . . Sortun’s recipes are as seamless as her food.” (Los Angeles Times)
About the Author
Ana Sortun was named the “Best Chef: Northeast” at the 2005 James Beard Awards for her restaurant, Oleana, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she opened in 2001. Known for unique Arabic-Mediterranean food, Oleana has received much local and national praise. Sortun holds a degree from Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.
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Top Customer Reviews
One thing which immediately impresses me about Ms. Sortum, even before reading any recipes, is that she gives ample acknowledgments to four of the leading writers on Mediterranean cuisine, Paula Wolfert, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, Clifford Wright, and Claudia Roden. She has amply repaid all her gratitude to these sages by giving us a book whereby the casual foodie can really appreciate important tastes of the Eastern Mediterranean without wading through, for example, Clifford Wright's monumental study of Mediterranean cuisine.
A second thing which impresses me early in my reading is that the author, assisted by ghost writer Nicole Chaison, cites Internet sources for important ingredients directly in the text, rather than having you flip to the back of the book. A minor note worth pointing out is that this is the first cookbook in which I have seen our beloved [...] as a source for cited foodstuffs.
A last bit of ephemera to note is that this is an exceptionally well designed book. While there are few color photographs, the warm tans and browns of the fonts, paper, and sidebars, with the old-fashioned ornamentation is the kind of care I usually see from only from Alfred A. Knopf cookbooks. Congrats to Harper Collins for the great window dressing which makes reading the book just a bit more satisfying.Read more ›
Now comes Ana Sortun. She has demystified the exotic herbs and spices that define the Levantine palate by describing how she discovered the real thing in Turkey and/or other eastern Mediterranean lands.
She should know because her Cambridge, Mass restaurant Oleana offers most every item featured in this handsome treasury of easy-to-follow, step by step recipes. True to its eponymous title, the book is organized by spices, i.e. the predominant seeds, leaves, and blossoms that flavor her signature dishes. It also includes a comprehensive list of web sites and shops that carry admittedly exotic or hard to get ingredients.
One reason for her success is the descriptive passages preceding each recipe. She tells stories of where she encountered the ingredients. She describes the (mostly) women and men who introduced them to her. Then she shows how she and her talented restaurant staff (everyone is credited, including her farmer husband) have adapted traditional recipes for the modern palate. This approach is more than nouveau, more than fusion. It takes tradition, and then expands on it with surprising results. Thus, hummus the old way morphs into a delectable parsnip creation, and falafel becomes a crunchy spinach/chick pea marriage.
But Sortun doesn't stop there. Because she has trained in France, she shares secrets about that country's cuisine.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
gift for my mother and she is very excited. big fan of the author's restaurants in BostonPublished 1 month ago by Mark Sabouni
I am very picky about the cookbooks I actually purchase anymore, but will say this one is critical to your collection. Read morePublished 5 months ago by jodigirl11
if you are serious about cooking this book is a must to understand how spices are mixed and used in cooking. I have given these as gifts to several of my friends.Published 9 months ago by michael
Very nice book. I like the fact that the recipes are under the headings of the spices. I only wish that the print and paper color were different; I'd like the text to show up... Read morePublished 10 months ago by On the Cape
Excellent book with gorgeous pictures.
I'd highly recommend any of the meat dishes (I like meat), or the sauces - Ana does an excellent job at her restaurants (we love... Read more
We really loved this book, especially how it orders recipes by spices.Published 13 months ago by Barish Golland