Matar, Marlene (author).
Dec. 2016. 352p. illus. Interlink, hardcover, $40 (9781566569866). 641.595.
First published November 15, 2016 (Booklist).
Syria’s venerable cuisine draws together diverse strains of Middle Eastern traditions to form a rich amalgam. As the nation’s largest city, positioned close to Turkey and Lebanon, Aleppo is home to Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Jews, and other ethnic communities, each of which has contributed to its culinary traditions. Moreover, Aleppo was the western terminus of the ancient Silk Road, so even Chinese influences are detectable in its cooking. Professional chef and cooking instructor Matar offers detailed instructions for preparing multiple versions of kibbeh, the Middle East’s renowned ground-meat dish. Other recipes offer tasty ways to cook vegetables for serving both hot and cold. Rich, sweet desserts conclude the book. Recipes are easy to follow and rarely demand hard-to-find ingredients. It’s hard to imagine a cookbook that can make a reader weep, but poring over this book’s richly colored photographs of Syrians crowding souks amid a sumptuous array of foods and utensils, one can only mourn their probable ruin in Syria’s current civil war.