rushthatspeaks: (Default)
This is, as I had hoped, A Really Fricking Useful Book. I've spent a fair amount of time cooking various directions of Indian food and a fair amount on Asian dumplings and a lot on Japanese this-and-that, but I've never made Middle Eastern food in my life, and it's a cuisine I really like.

Bsisu has a selection of recipes here suitable for all skill levels, including things where you throw one or two ingredients together and things where you spend four days arranging all the pieces. She uses the ingredients she grew up using (in Kuwait and Jordan), but suggests substitutions for people who can't find specific items. She clearly defines the flavor palette and distinguishing features of the food she's producing, and, and this makes me very happy, not only discusses which country each dish comes from but tells you how to vary the base recipe to make the versions you would find in other countries.

And the whole thing is clear, euphonious, and interspersed with pleasant personal anecdotes and discussions of major occasions and festivals and what food could be served for various occasions-- on the birth of a child, on the proposal of marriage, on the evenings of Ramadan.

I had to get up and go eat some olives while reading.

I have not cooked anything yet from this-- I just read it today-- so it's possible that something could still go wrong or not be as tasty as it sounds, but my knowledge of how spices usually work indicates that the recipes look reasonable. She gives you directions for multiple spice blends and for making yogurt and yogurt cheese and several flatbreads, but admits freely that you can buy all of that if you need to.

In short, this appears to be exactly the primer on Arabic food and cooking that I wanted and that I hoped it would be when I got it out of the library. I am looking forward to working from it, to learning another way of thinking about cooking, because once you've cooked enough recipes from an area you start to be able to extrapolate about food and come up with your own things spiced and prepared similarly; and the ability to make a variety of tasty and different things from the same basic set of ingredients we always have in the house is really what I desire out of my cooking. When I look at an egg and a spice rack I want to have options. This book helps open out another set.


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March 2017

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