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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really lovely book
This is such a lovely book - part cookbook, part travelogue, part auto-biography. It follows a largely culinary tour of the author's life, from her childhood as part of a diplomatic family in Syria & Peru, and later life & travels in Lanzarote (before the days of mass tourism), Turkey, Burma, India, Persia, Vietnam, Morocco and the US where the author lived for a while...
Published on 22 Jan 2011 by Marand

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The taste of someone else's nostalgia
Josceline Dimbleby is the wife of famous journalist David and this book intersperses tales of living in many exotic places around the world, with recipes for the food the author found there. As Rick Stein points out on the cover, the recipes are all "closely connected to her life,"

Well I must say I had a bit of a problem with that personally. Because frankly I...
Published on 27 Nov 2010 by doublegone


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really lovely book, 22 Jan 2011
By 
Marand (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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This is such a lovely book - part cookbook, part travelogue, part auto-biography. It follows a largely culinary tour of the author's life, from her childhood as part of a diplomatic family in Syria & Peru, and later life & travels in Lanzarote (before the days of mass tourism), Turkey, Burma, India, Persia, Vietnam, Morocco and the US where the author lived for a while. There are memories too of time spent (and spent cooking) with her grandmother whilst at school away from her family in England and of holidays spent in Devon. The book contains many photographs taken by the author or taken from the family archive. I loved reading about her travels, particularly to places that have now become part of the tourist mainstream but which were different & exotic as recently as the 1970's. I was reminded that Vietnam was only opened up to tourism in the early 1990's.

Although the book is as much travelogue as cook book, there are plenty enough recipes. I have hundreds of cookbooks but normally find maybe five or six recipes from each book that stick in my memory enough for me to use them on a regular basis. This book is crammed full of lovely recipes that I know are going to be firm favourites. I am looking forward to the summer where I can use the recipes for rose petal tart and apricot & pomegranate jelly, the latter a beautiful, jewel-coloured concoction, both drawn from the first chapter covering Syria in the 1950's.

To give you a flavour of the recipes, there are cheesy fishcakes (no potato), lemon pudding, savoury three cheese custards perfect for a quick lunch, and blackberry tart. From Peru there is beef in chilli & chocolate sauce and passion fruit snow, from the Canary Islands come chilled almond & garlic soup and canary cake (an almond cake with bananas & orange syrup topping). There is another almond-based cake too, this time with lemon. A recipe for fish stew mentions that as recently as the 1960's olive oil was something you bought at the pharmacy, not in a food shop. A holiday in Turkey introduces Pera Palas pie (a sort of shepherd's pie using aubergine & pine kernels), lamb meatballs with egg & lemon sauce and muhalebi (a milk pudding) with orange blossom syrup. The US provides recipes for pumpkin & sweet potato soup; a very more-ish potato, tomato & mascarpone bake; and a baked cheesecake with a ginger crust. From Morocco there is a lovely, simple spiced carrot salad with mint (the list of ingredients looks long but is mainly spices & herbs) and an interesting meatball dish in tomato sauce topped with eggs. Persia offers up, amongst others, some gorgeous honey cakes, again very simple to make. There is a fabulous cauliflower curry from India and potatoes with ginger & spices - tried, very successfully, for a curry night just a couple of days after I got the book. There is another lovely spiced cauliflower dish, this time from Burma. There are several Vietnamese dishes including chicken noodle hotpot with coconut milk & fresh leaves.

Highly recommended and a perfect present for a foodie friend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 22 Mar 2011
By 
Soo Broo (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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What a beautiful, delightful book.

Firstly, I have to say the feel of this book is lovely. The quality of the paper used is fantastic - thick and super smooth which makes the book a tactile pleasure before you've even read the first sentence. I loved the layout of the pages too; almost like a scrapbook of old and new photos, recipes and text.

It's a mix of autobiography, cookery book and travel guide, but written in such an engaging way you really feel you've been there with her. Her descriptions bring to life her slightly nomadic childhood, and you can almost feel the sun beating down on you in Syria, feel the wind from the Andes in Peru and hear the sea in Lanzarote.

Some of the recipes have been passed down through her family from generation to generation, some are traditional, some are favourites and some are simply recreated from the memory of a good meal, but all are mouth watering, easy to follow and good to eat. I always think that cookery books are so much more effective when the food is set in a context like this and it really made me much keener to try the recipes; having just read her descriptions of eating a certain dish in a certain country made me want to share that. Fantastic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely Read, 17 Mar 2011
By 
D. Pass (Staffs) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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This is the first book that I have read by Josceline Dimbleby and I was not dissapointed. I decided to read through the book first and just glance at the pictures of the recipes and go back to them after I had finished the book. But I bet no one will be able to resist getting side tracked and read through the recipes, think if you have all the ingredients and imagine making them. Then re-read the last page of the story to catch up and then off again until you get to the next treasure mmm. All in all a really enjoyable book , it would also make a lovely present .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the Soul, 13 Mar 2011
By 
Mrs. K. A. P. Wright - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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I read this book on a cold day in early March with a howling gale turning round my house. I was not feeling especially well nor was I in a good mood. . . Just reading the title lifted my spirits: Orchards in the Oasis: Travels, Food and Memories - what wonderfully evocative words - and the book lives up to its promise. It is just what it says it is: Josceline Dimbleby's memories from her early childhood in Syria to the present day, describing her travels and food she has eaten.

She writes beautifully. Her descriptions are full of the colours, heat and smells of the places she has visited. The text is illustrated by her own photographs so that we can see the people and places she is talking about. In addition, every two to three pages, she provides recipes for the food she has eaten, also beautifully photographed.

The risk that a book like this runs is that the recipes will not adapt to the average British kitchen or be within the scope of the average British cook. While I have not tried all the recipes, the random selection I have attempted have all worked well.
This is the first book by Josceline Dimbleby that I have read. I will be searching for others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy, 17 Mar 2011
By 
Stromata (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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Reading this book is almost like spending time with a particularly good, interesting friend reminiscing about their travels - whilst cooking you a fabulous meal! Most of the photographs are personal, taken by the author giving the book somewhat of a `scrap book' feel, and as such an absolute pleasure to look at. The recipes are highly do-able and the flavoursome, colourful nature of the food is very welcome, particularly to my rather jaded winter palette. Vegetarians are well catered for - as are those with a sweet tooth who will drool over the Yazd honey cakes, Blackberry Cottage tart, Calcutta kheer etc.

A gorgeous book that would make a superb gift for anyone interested in food and/or travel. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 Jan 2012
By 
J. Pell "jpell" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
This is my second book by Josceline Dimbleby. It was a Christmas present and is a real tonic for the time of year.
It is very well written. I wanted it for the recipes, but love reading about her life in various parts of the world and the ingredients she became familiar with from an early age which were not easily available here at the time. The meatloaf caused some excitement at the dinner table and was resoundingly voted the best meatloaf recipe ever because of its lovely blend of interesting flavours. Can't wait to get going on the rest.I have many recipe books and "Orchards in the Oasis" defintely deserves a place on my bookshelf. I love it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting travelogue/biography slant on cooking - one for the coffee table as much as the kitchen, 5 Sep 2011
By 
Keith_Joseph (West Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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This beautifully illustrated book looks back on the last 60 years of Josceline Dimbleby's life covering her childhood, later adult travels and her passion for food. So 'Orchards in the Oasis' is a historical travelogue rather than a guide book, as you would need a Tardis to go to most of the places she describes, being now lost in history. Added to this is a recipe book of the relevant nations cuisine, mixed together with details and images from her life. As she moved about a bit from the Middle east to Vietnam and the USA the recipes do jump about culturally, so it's not a Mediterranean or Asian cook book as such, and so doesn't function as a typical recipe book like say 'Wok and stir-fry' or 'The Complete Indian Cookbook' - if you fancy an Indian dish for example there's no easy way to find the recipe short of flicking through the pages [I did find Cauliflower Curry in the index as it was also under C and I was looking for 'curry']. Likewise the ingredients add in the odd rarer kitchen foodstuff [like cottage/goats cheese, semolina, avocados, or limes] so you would probably have to shop specially to prepare many of the 70 recipes included in the book.

I have to say life story wise I prefer reading the likes of Gerald Durrrel's 'My family and other animals' or 'Three against the wilderness', as there's fewer funny/interesting biographical anecdotes in 'Orchards and Oasis' and many paragraphs are dry descriptions of the place, who she went with, and how they got there [much of the text seems directly lifted from Josceline's diaries of the time] - plus of course there's detailed discussions on the look and taste of the local food. So this isn't an essential book for cooking or reading pleasure, and you could get similar recipes from the internet in seconds, but it is very nicely presented with evocative photos of food, people and exotic places - and more importantly it manages to pass on Josceline's passion for food and it's cultural roots, so it could lead you to more adventurous eating and possibly more adventurous holiday destinations. Although I haven't gone for pigeon pie [which ironically is quite an English dish], I was very interested in recipes like chilled almond and garlic soup, moonlight bananas, and spiced carrot salad with mint. Perhaps the only negative is that it's a quite large 222 page book and further adds to household clutter, but if you've got space on the recipe shelf, this is a handsome addition. So 4*.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really a recipe book..., 30 May 2011
This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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Now that you can access whatever recipe you want on the internet, recipe books really have to move on and this one has. I love reading Nigella Lawson's recipe books. They're bedtime reading and so is this. If you love food and you want to be inspired, this is the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 27 May 2011
This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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I loved this book. The settings are superb. I almost felt I was in the Middles East eating delicious food. Joscelyn writes very well setting the scene so you feel a real part of it all. The recipes are delicious too.
When she talks about going on her travels with David and her family you feel you are there too. The memories of that era come back so it seems like yesterday.
Joscelyn has had a delightful life
She has visited some superb places and people. I envy her. She will be able to have those for the rest of her life. Lucky lady
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book but not really a cook book, not really an autobiography, 11 April 2011
By 
J. Brand "jbrand" (Somewhere else) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
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This is a rather strange book. Mainly it's an autobiogpahy but largely interspersed with recipes so it can be read as a cook book. And there is a problem - is it a biography, a travelogue or a cook book? If anyone were to ask me for a recommendation for any of those this would not be the recommendation. So why four stars? well much as it might not fall in any category, it's just a nicely written and presented book - an ideal christmas present or stocking filler for someone who likes one or preferably more of those categories.
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Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories
Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories by Josceline Dimbleby (Hardcover - 1 Oct 2010)
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