cover image FEAST FROM THE MIDEAST: 250 Sun-Drenched Dishes from the Lands of the Bible

FEAST FROM THE MIDEAST: 250 Sun-Drenched Dishes from the Lands of the Bible

Faye Levy, . . HarperCollins, $29.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-06-009361-7

Delivering another winner, Levy (1,000 Jewish Recipes; Faye Levy's International Vegetable Cookbook) turns her attention to the Middle East, where she lived for many years, and draws not only on her heritage but also on the customs and traditional variations that shape the region. Distinguishing a dish as Egyptian or Syrian rather than Persian, for example, she takes home cooks on a culinary odyssey, explaining the history and geography of each region. Starting with the Middle East pantry and carefully offering substitutes where necessary, she addresses the specialized ingredients that the user may not be familiar with. Each recipe is carefully described with its provenance and attributes from the traditional main course, such as Yemenite Beef Soup with Curry Spices and Potatoes ("the centerpiece of the traditional Yemenite diet"); the rich, sweet flaky Nut-filled Baklava ("the first records we have come from Syria near the Turkish border"); and the ubiquitous Middle Eastern Diced Salad, which has a different name in each country. Several recipes are given new twists, while never deviating from the intrinsic substance at the heart of each dish, to take advantage of today's health concerns. Interspersed with panels that inform and amuse (as when Levy, as a budding cook, describes exploding an eggplant), the book concludes with a chapter covering the basics, from blanching almonds to making vegetable stock and a selection of suggested menus. Wide in breadth and scope with a thorough attention to detail, Levy's foray into this area of cuisine so plentiful in history results in an important volume rich in content and knowledge. (Oct.)