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A Book of Middle Eastern Food Paperback – February 12, 1974
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"Mrs. Roden is an inspiring guide to a rather unusual school of cookery. Her recipes are mouth-watering and her directions clear and easy to follow. A Book of Middle Eastern Food is a landmark in the field of cookery." -- James Beard
More than 500 recipes from the subtle, spicy, varied cuisine of the Middle East, ranging from inexpensive but tasty peasant fare to elaborate banquet dishes, all translated into workable Western terms.
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0 recipes from the subtle, spicy, varied cuisines of the Middle East, ranging from inexpensive but tasty peasant fare to elaborate banquet dishes.
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He is now reading it with almost the same devotion one would give to a great novel! I had forgotten how well Ms. Rodin writes, and her wonderful way of bringing the many cultures of the Middle East to life through food, flavor, legend, and history. My husband and I have both long believed that food is one of the greatest ways to understand and show respect for different cultures and that kitchens and dinner tables are where that mutual understanding begins to flourish. As professional chefs and teachers of many years, we have long taught the concept of cultural tolerance, understanding, and sharing through food. I've been happy to be reminded that this book was one of the first to actually articulate the concept for me.
This is an approachable cookbook filled with wonderful, authentic recipes, a well-researched source of many fascinating legends, beliefs, & practices, and a fairly comprehensive overview of the many cultures that make up what we know as "the Middle East."
Also recommended: "Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen: A Culinary Journey through Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan," by Sonia Uvezian. This seminal work captures the essence of the region's traditional foods in hundreds of distinctive recipes interspersed with superlative cultural and culinary background material, including unparalleled information on ingredients and utensils.
To begin with, the author doesn't provide essential information on ingredients. Many important ones are not even mentioned. Nor is there any discussion of arak (raki) or of the region's wines. There is nothing on traditional utensils and no menus. Little is said about the culinary specialties of various places. For example, Roden doesn't tell us that karabij (page 404) is an Aleppan specialty; in fact the full Arabic name of this popular pastry is karabij halab (Aleppo karabij). Nor does she mention that both Damascus and Tripoli have long been renowned for their sweets, including ice cream. Her remarks about amardine (page 382) don't include Damascus, a city celebrated for this confection, which it has exported to many parts of the world for centuries.
There are glaring mistakes in this book. For instance, the oldest Arab culinary manual that has been found dates not from the twelfth century but from the tenth (page 7). On page 8 Roden implies that Assyrians and Babylonians are something other than Mesopotamians, which, of course, they are not! On page 12 she refers to burghul as "the Turkish burghul (cracked wheat)." She is wrong on three counts: (1) there is no proof that burghul is Turkish in origin; it may well have been eaten in this area centuries before the Turks arrived; (2) the Turks call this product bulgur, not burghul, which is its Arabic name; and (3) burghul, unlike cracked wheat, is precooked. On page 135 Roden erroneously states that omelets do not appear in early Arab culinary literature. The Kitab al Wusla il al Habib, to which she refers on page 177, was written in the thirteenth (not the twelfth) century and contains 74 (not 500) recipes for chicken. The word for broad brown beans in Arabic is "ful," not "ful medames," which is the name of a dish using these beans (page 268). The usual conclusion to a Middle Eastern meal is fruit, not sweets (page 373). On page 404 Roden incorrectly identifies soapwort (erh halawa) as bois de Panama. Yet this author has been praised for her high standards of scholarship!
This volume is riddled with shortcomings. Though there is as yet no definitive cookbook that covers the entire region, readers may want to look at "The Complete Middle East Cookbook" by Tess Mallos, which at least includes more countries and contains recipes that are much better written.