Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: The Lebanese Kitchen

I received a copy of Salma Hage’s new cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen a couple of weeks ago.The publisher, Phaidon, is well known for producing high quality books that are lovely not only to read but beautiful to hold and to look at and The Lebanese Kitchen is no exception. The pages are uniquely cut with a delicate zigzag edge and there are at least two colorful ribbons strings sewn into the binding for easy bookmarking.

This is a heavy, large cookbook; an exhaustive encyclopedia of the best of Lebanese cooking. So many recipes to choose from in fact that I wasn’t sure where to get started. Over the past few weeks I’ve made Hage’s hummus with chili oil, eggplant and garlic dip, Lebanse mixed salad, and zucchini stuffed with lamb. Everything has been phenomenal and I’m really pleased to count The Lebanese Kitchen among my favorite cookbooks. The recipes are well written in that they are accurate (no typos or proportion errors) and easy to follow. Bonus: there are a number of full page photos sprinkled throughout the book that provide a visual guide to what the finished dishes should look like and that’s very useful.

It would be a welcome addition if the next printing provided notes such as background or history to accompany each recipe. When did the recipe find it’s way into Lebanese cuisine? Which region of Lebanon gave birth to the flavor profile and ingredients? Was it inspired by another nation’s or culture’s cuisine? And so forth… However, the cookbook stands strong (recommendation: buy, buy buy this cookbook!) as-is, even without these requested details.

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