Imad’s Syrian Kitchen: A Love Letter from Damascus

Interlink. Jan. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9781623711160. $35. COOKING
In 2015, chef and restaurateur Alarnab fled his home in war-torn Syria and began his perilous journey to the UK. Like many refugees, he worked a variety of jobs before he began cooking pop-up dinners for UNICEF, catering, and ultimately opening a restaurant and reuniting with his family. This narrative is often raw and vivid and may seem out of place in a cookbook, but Alarnab’s food carried him on his journey, created his new livelihood, and connected him to the love of his home, making his powerful story a natural pairing with his recipes. The dishes and the narrative give a window into the culture and people of Damascus and how Alarnab maintains a connection with his homeland. The recipes, which have traditional roots but are adapted for the modern home kitchen, rely on building a solid pantry of ingredients and spices to deliver big flavors. The book’s design and illustrations evoke warmth, paired with appealing food styling and photos of Alarnab in his kitchen.
VERDICT Recipes that spotlight particular ingredients with vibrant tastes anchor this deeply personal refugee story and will remind readers of the power that food has to bring people together and help them heal.
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