Top positive review
33 people found this helpful
Spend the winter in Snackistan and have a glorious time!
on 13 October 2013
It's a cold wet weekend in the Marches and just before I go off to get my flu jab, a parcel arrives. It is Snackistan, its cover a glorious eastern geometric pattern in shades of red, blue and cream. My mood lifts immediately. I take it with me to look at while I queue at the doctor's and thereby change the course of my day. Instead of going straight home, I'm off to the supermarket to buy ingredients - and yes most of the ingredients you need to cook the recipes in this book are available in a supermarket in the wilds of the Welsh Marches - because I am going to spend this vile wet weekend cooking Middle Eastern street food.
This is, I think, Sally Butcher's third book. Certainly it's the third book of hers that I have bought, and they all share her sense of fun and enormous knowledge of Middle Eastern and especially Persian food. She has the gift of enriching your knowledge by means of a good story, so the information she gives you slips down as easily as her food.
The recipes are great. They are organised helpfully and the index is excellent. Instructions are clear and easy to follow, but she also shows you how you can use her recipes as a stepping off point for ideas of your own. Techniques are not just explained, the reasons why they are necessary are also given. The illustrations are both beautiful and helpful.
Is a book teaching you how to make snacks really what the busy cook needs? Well, that depends on how you define the word snack. If a snack to you is a biscuit or a packet of crisps, then you need this book to broaden your horizons (though there are excellent recipes for crisp-like snacks here which will make you shudder at the thought of 'salt 'n vinegar' for ever more). If the word snack immediately conjures up some unhealthy, fat-saturated death inducing dollop of cholesterol, then the recipes here will show you that snacks can be both healthy and gorgeous. It also shows you that if you add salad you can make a meal; if you group dishes together you can have a feast.
Most of these recipes are best cooked fresh, but lots can be prepared ahead of time, so that if you have a heavy work schedule during the week, you can have everything ready to cook, waiting in the fridge when you come home.
So far, I have tried Greek style fried fish with vinegar sauce, Kebab - e -Koobideh, Fancy Houmous, Turkish Courgette Fritters, Chicken Liver with Pomegranate Sauce and various roasted nut mixtures. All have worked really well. There is a chapter on sweet things that I am desperately trying to resist, full of honey and nuts and marzipan that I would find almost impossible to eat in moderation.
So, to sum up, what is the food of Snackistan? The cover tells us 'street fare' 'comfort food' 'meze' - 'informal eating in the Middle East and beyond' and sums it up exactly. This is one book you can judge by its cover.