Top positive review
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A timeless classic
on December 14, 1999
When I saw the first edition of this book, which was published in 1974, I thought that Sonia Uvezian had begun her food writing career in a manner in which most other cookbook authors would be happy to end theirs. Along with its lucid and informative text, The Cuisine of Armenia showcases a dazzling collection of flavor-packed recipes ranging from the traditional to the unusual, from the rustic to the sophisticated. The following is just a (the last bite always comes too soon!); Mussels Stuffed with Rice, Pine Nuts, and Currants (will make a dedicated mussel lover out of anyone); Red Pepper and Walnut Dip with Pomegranate (excellent served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to grilled fish, poultry, or meat); Meat and Egg Rolls (a perfect picnic or buffet dish); Meat Soup with Vegetables and Herbs (Echmiadzin Bozbash) (if you can't make it to Echmiadzin, try this); Dumplings in Yogurt or Tomato Broth (Mantabour) (guaranteed to brighten a dreary winter day); Fruit Paste Dipped in Egg (delightfully original); Oysters in Tomato Wine Sauce (excellent and uncomplicated); Spitted Trout with Tarragon and Pomegranate (simple though hardly commonplace); Roast Chicken with Apricot and Chestnut Stuffing (splendid! Uvezian's own creation); Roast Turkey with Cinnamon-Glazed Apples (easy to make and impressive to serve); Broiled Skewered Pork with Pomegranate Syrup (one of the glories of Caucasian Armenian cooking); Harput Keufteh (deservedly famous and well worth the effort); Keufteh in Yogurt Sauce (a real winner that shouldn't be missed); Ashtarak Dolma (a transcendant experience!); Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Rice, Raisins, Prunes, and Apples (truly enchanting!); Saffron Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds and Sesame Seeds (elegant!); Fried Eggplant and Tomato Slices with Garlic Yogurt Sauce (a superb combination!); and Yogurt Cream (another great Uvezian invention). Also, all of the savory pastries, pastas, breads, and desserts I have tried are knockouts.
After countless memorable meals resulting from Uvezian's remarkably clear recipes, I can say with certainty that I was correct in my original assessment of this work. The Cuisine of Armenia is indeed a very great accomplishment. I should mention, however, that Uvezian's latest cookbook, Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, is an even greater achievement. In addition to hundreds of fabulous recipes from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, it contains a number of magnificent Armenian ones not found in The Cuisine of Armenia. The book also provides fascinating information on the important contributions Armenians have made to the cultural and economic life of the region, something that has been largely ignored by other food writers. For example, I was surprised to learn of the significant role Armenians have played in the culinary life of Aleppo, where the wheat and flour trades as well as the baking and sale of bread and pastry were virtually monopolized by them for nearly three centuries. The author further informs us that the city's world-famous Baron Hotel, whose dining room once featured wild boar, pheasant, and caviar, has been owned and operated by an Armenian family ever since it was built in 1909.
The Cuisine of Armenia and Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen are masterly volumes that belong in the library of every serious food lover, Armenian and non-Armenian alike. I treasure them both and would give them six stars if I could. Highly, highly recommended!