The Arabesque Table: Contemporary Recipes from the Arab World

Phaidon. Apr. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781838662516. $39.95. COOKING
Kassis (The Palestinian Table) ambitiously celebrates the evolution of Arab cuisine and its cross-cultural connections, highlighting commonalities found across 22 nations from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. Inspired by the whole region (though most strongly inspired by present-day Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and influenced by her travels), her recipes are written with modern families in mind (symbols denote quick meals, etc.) but are deeply rooted in the past. Kassis delights in relating how iconic recipes changed throughout history and shares warm stories of developing her own versions. Her pantry chapter explains the origins of ingredients and how they became integral to Arab cuisine; subsequent chapters are built around important ingredients (like tahini) or combinations (like grains and pulses). Vivid photos of food are throughout, but do not depict the region’s landscapes as in Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol’s Under the Mediterranean Sun, which devotes chapters to some of the same countries covered here.
VERDICT Recommended for home cooks who will marvel at the historical and cultural connections Kassis points out as they prepare her unintimidating, forward-thinking recipes.
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