Despite its age, this volume (in the Time-Life series* Foods of the World, copyright 1969, revised 1971) is a well-researched introduction to the regiDespite its age, this volume (in the Time-Life series* Foods of the World, copyright 1969, revised 1971) is a well-researched introduction to the region, spanning from Greece & Egypt all the way to Iran. The first chapter introduces the common elements of the cuisines of the nine nations that are covered in this travelogue, as the author (an American of Greek descent) discovers the landscape, the peoples, and the foods along the route. This is essentially why I treasure this old book - for the historical background, the explication of the culinary traditions uniting as well as differentiating the Middle Eastern cultures, and more than anything, the photographs that immortalize the people of the region as they prepare the food and consume it. In Greece, the focus is on the Easter festivities, in Turkey a farewell family feast, in Lebanon a stylish urban cocktail and mezze spread, in Jordan a Bedouin tent mansaf, in Iraq the archeological roots of the agricultural staples on which the region's cuisines are based, in Israel the multicultural origins of the colonial settlers, in Iran meals with tilemakers and carpetweaving craftsmen, in Egypt the street vendors.
* The main text is a hardbound album, and the majority of the recipes are printed in a separate spiralbound booklet (which I don't own). ...more