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by Joumana Accad
The book starts with a brief background of the author's childhood in Lebanon and her efforts to mesh her background with her adult life in America. She then explains details about food and attitude towards food in her native country and provides ideas for how to prepare authentic Lebanese food in less that an hour, by doing things like sautéing onions in olive oil and freezing them for fast use.
I was especially interested in the spices and primary flavors of Lebanese food, which she made very simple. This is something I've been looking for in cookbooks; how to achieve the flavor of the country with use of spices that are common in ethnic foods.
The detailed information about different grains and how to prepare them was very enlightening and presented in an east to follow style. I was particularly interested in learning about Mahlab (Orchid powder), and decided that I must source some.
The book had me basking in thoughts of fragrant spices, floral waters and nutty tahini long before I got to the recipes!
The recipes themselves cover a vast array of interesting sounding food, including soups, finger foods, salads, main courses, sides, stews and desserts. A lot is done with nuts, both as a protein substitute and in desserts. Apparently in Lebannon, meat is only eaten once a week so many of the recipes are vegetarian or use a little fat of the lamb or sheep to add protein and flavor.
Eating customs and especially the use of pita bread are explained as well as what to find in a typical Lebanese larder. The book finishes with a comprehensive glossary and an index, so that everything is easy to find.
Overall an excellent book for learning all about food of a specific country and one I will enjoy trying out recipes from very soon.