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The Arab Table: Recipes and Culinary Traditions Hardcover – September 6, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bsisu, an Ohio chef by way of Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and England, sets out to define the cuisine of the Arab world. As she points out, a quarter of the globe is covered in her treatise, and she lovingly explores and clearly explains dishes from Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and the Arabian Gulf. What's most apparent is that Arab meals are elemental in nature, more often reliant upon foodstuffs than technique. There are perhaps a dozen key ingredients on which most of these 160 recipes are based. Bulgur (cracked wheat) gives rice a run for its money as the grain of choice and is integral in making Kibeh, an all-purpose dish that also employs beef or lamb, and a mix of spices, and can be made into skewers, balls or cooked in a baking dish. Yogurt is ubiquitous, and pomegranate finds its way into many courses, too, including Meatball Stew, and Sautéed Chicken Gizzards. There are also plenty of classics at hand, including a couple of different couscouses, Grape Leaves Stuffed with Lamb and Rice, and Chicken Shawarma. American home cooks will find this a family-style, down-to-earth, insider exploration of Arab cuisine and culture. Color photos. (On sale Sept. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

May Shakhashir Bsisu is a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. May has lived, eaten, and cooked in many parts of the world; however, paramount in her cooking, writing, and teaching is the authentic "old country" food of her Palestinian heritage. Today, both as a culinary professional and as an Arab-American woman, she has dedicated herself to preserving and teaching this healthful and delicious cuisine in the United States. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, and Chefs Collaborative.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; First Edition edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060586141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060586140
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

May S. Bsisu is a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. May has lived, eaten, and cooked in many parts of the world; however, paramount in her cooking, writing and teaching is the authentic "old country" food of her Palestinian heritage.
Today both as a culinary professional and as an Arab-American women, she has dedicated herself to preserving and teaching this healthful and delicious cuisine in the United States.
May is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chefs & Restaurants, and Chefs Collaborative.
The Arab Table, her first book, continues to be a great and success and was translated into other languages. She is currently working on her second book.

Customer Reviews

It has wonderful recipes and also tells the history of where they come from.
Julie
May Bsisu does a wonderful job explaining how to cook traditional Arabic dishes and the spectrum of the recipes she includes is impressive.
Rasha Madkour
These two recipes turned out well beyond my expectations and I'm looking forward to making many more things from this great book.
M. Khan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Rasha Madkour on September 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After perusing dozens of English-language Middle Eastern cookbooks over the years - none of which I found to be as comprehensive and authentic (based on my experience being raised in the Arab world) as I wanted - I was wonderfully surprised to receive this tome as a wedding gift. May Bsisu does a wonderful job explaining how to cook traditional Arabic dishes and the spectrum of the recipes she includes is impressive. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Niel Rishoi on February 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After perusing several cookbooks on Middle Eastern cuisine, this is the one I chose. For specifically two reasons: it contains two universal favorites: chicken schwarma and fattoush, which are the leading dishes served in all the Middle Eastern restaurants here in Michigan, specifically those in Dearborn. I was astonished to discover in so many like cookbooks that failed to contain schwarma and fattoush. Therefore, "The Arab Table" is definitely the one to have.

May Bsisu has done a splendid job, backed by all her friends and family, in giving us the pure basics of classic Middle Eastern fare. These are the recipes of dishes which are recognizable to the world at large. They are especially conducive to home kitchens, and are clear, easy to follow, and tantalizing. After you get started on these recipes, you may find yourself - as I did - at the outset making this cuisine a few times a week, rather than in a month, to savor all the riches of flavors, textures and colors.

In addition, Ms. Bsisu provides an excellent glossary, explanation of ingredients, and, as well, sources to obtain some of these, if there aren't any suitable markets in your area.

Best of all, though, in keeping with the generosity of spirit, there are histories, anecdotes, and background information about all that which surrounds the illustrious history of Middle Eastern cookery and traditions; therefore it makes a terrific reading companion as well. The author invites us (delightfully so) into her own family and her inheritance of their traditions. Laudably, Ms. Bsisu keeps these facts and lore to the basics, providing just enough details to both inform and entertain.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hyunkyung Michelle Park on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is without any doubt the best and more comprehensive cooking book about arabic cuisine.

It focuses mainly on the "bladi al sham" kitchen, which encompasses cuisines of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
Thus, if you are looking for a variety of moroccan/algerian/tunesian dishes, you probably should buy "Moroccan Cooking" by Alia Al-Kasimi.

DO NOT BUY this book, if this is your FIRST ARAB COOKING BOOK or if you haven'T eaten arabic food very often before.
For this, it really just lacks pictures and it is difficult to imagine how the dish would taste or how it should look like at the end.

AND DEFINITELY BUY THIS BOOK, if you have lived in the middle east for a while and are familiar with many dishes.......
....if you are an Arab American !! (this book is pretty much a MUST!!)
....or if you are Israeli/Jewish American!!! (also a must, since the kitchen is so similar, if not the same)
....or if you visited jewish/arab restaurants a lot before....or you have many arab/israeli friends.
....or if you have an Arab or Jewish husband/wife for whom you wanna cook (MUST!!!)

I have already about 9 different middle eastern cooking dishes in different languages from authors of different countries.
4 Turkish (whose cuisine is also very similar in many ways) and 4 Lebanese/Palestinian and 1 Moroccan.)

And let me be honest,
this is by far the most comprehensive !!
There are others, which are very authentic too.
But this one has basically EVERY (!!!) arab dish that you will encounter.
And this is perhaps also why it does not include too many pictures.
It is simply too comprehensive to put a picture to each recipe.
It already has about 400 pages.
Read more ›
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Arab food is one of the world's oldest cuisines; yet surprisingly little has been written to provide an in-depth coverage: that's why The Arab Table: Recipes & Culinary Traditions' 188 recipes is so important as an introduction to the range of Arab culinary traditions. From Eggs with Ground Beef and Sumac to Chicken Stuffed with Spiced Beef and Rice and Fried Cauliflower, there's a good mix of both traditional and less familiar dishes. A centerfold of color photos enhances the appeal. If only one Arab cookbook were to round out an international culinary collection, it should be The Arab Table: its range and presentation can't be beat.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Donuts on September 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Tafadalo! Please, come to the table!" May Bsisu taught me these words in her book and in the few days I have spent with her book I have found the stories and recipes to be exactly what these words proclaim: an offering and an invitation, a giving to others that is an essential expression of hospitality in the Arab world. These days, when hummus can be found at any diner, the origins of and ingredients in Arab food are mostly still a mystery to me. Morocco and Egypt and maybe Lebanon and Israel -- I know some dishes and ingredients but I wanted to know the history and ingredients and especially the stories surrounding these dishes and find out more about the Arab gulf, Iraq, and other areas. In this book I found a great selection of recipes that represent both the author's and the regions' rich heritage and the introduction alone could be a primer for any kitchen. What I also love is a balance between the simple foods with rich combinations of spices to special dishes for celebrations. I just tried the rub from Yemen called hawajat, a yellow spice mixture of turmeric, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and cardamom, on a piece of grilled fish last night and we were delighted. This weekend, I think I'll make a table of mezza salads and cold dishes (mezza is similar to Tapas). A great find!
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