one man's ceiling
Monday, February 12, 2007
  cookbook: arabesque
in case it hasn't been obvious, there's been a certain middle eastern influence in the kitchen lately. and i blame this book.

arabesque: a taste of
morocco, turkey & lebanon
by claudia roden
knopf 2006

i've probably got a dozen pages marked with post-it notes and i'm only half way through. the book is broken down by geographical region and there is some overlap with recipes, but the duplicates are all slightly different either in ingredients, spicing or proportions.

each section begins with an overview of the country and its relationship with its food. festival and restaurant menus are discussed along with examinations of staples both common to westerners (couscous and breads) and not-so-common (preserved lemons, regional alcohol).

unless you eat a lot of middle eastern food there is much newness to be discovered here.
never before have i been tempted by a quince in so many ways; i don't even have any idea what a quince tastes like! the pairing of meat and fruit isn't new to me, the but the recipe for chicken with plums seems opulent and obscene all at once.

as i write there are beets roasting in the oven for a salad with yogurt and mint, and eggplants soaking in salty water to be stuffed and baked later. some of the recipes invite shortcuts (i could have bought perfectly acceptable prepared beets) but there's something nice about going the slow route when time permits.

as much as i am in love with the recipes in this book, and the way they will no doubt add new members to our meal rotations, i am about to give it a break for a few weeks. i have another book entirely of indian cooking that looks just as promising.

my thanks to the bbc/pri radio concoction the world and their wonderful programming for introducing me to these books. here's a sample from them. check the book out at your local library.

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