- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 1st edition edition (22 Oct. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449460828
- ISBN-13: 978-1449460822
- Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 2.3 x 26.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 208,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia Hardcover – 22 Oct 2015
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About the Author
Felicia Campbell began her adult life as a 17-year-old private in the United States Army, deploying to Iraq as a member of the initial invasion in 2003. Her experiences there transformed her perspective on the world. She fell in love with the Iraqi people and the warmth and hospitality of Middle Eastern culture over steaming cups of tea and plates of grilled chicken, inspiring a lifelong passion for food as an essential human pleasure that can open the door for intimate connections, even under the most dire circumstances. She has spent the last decade exploring these themes, earning a master's degree in food studies with a focus on Middle Eastern culture from New York University and sharing stories from the region as an International Association of Culinary Professionals award-nominated writer and staff editor at Saveur and as a freelance journalist. She now lives in Muscat, where she is the executive features editor at the Times of Oman.
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My brother worked in Oman for around 6 months and raved about the country and its people, so when I saw this book, I was very interested to see what I could discover. The book is a sumptuous collection of stunning photos of all aspects of Omani life, and appetising recipes from the whole Omani world (including Zanzibar). The book starts with a short history of the country, followed by a history of the traditional cuisine, the spice routes and from whence the main tastes of Oman came: “The complex, global history of the Omani pantry is reflective of the Omani heritage of exploration and engagement with the world, a heritage that comes through in both the culture and the cuisine.”
There is a section on the main ingredients of Omani cooking with photos and how they are used (there is a half page on Black limes alone!), and notes on substitutions for hard to get ingredients. Scattered in amongst the mouth-watering recipes is copious information about Omani customs and daily life, especially as it relates to food. This book does not give a day-by-day tourist guide to what to visit in Oman, but with that exception appears to cover everything else you could possible want to know about the country and its food.
Over the past few weeks I have tried about seven of the recipes and have definite plans for many more. The recipes are easy to follow and cook, accompanied by helpful suggestions and explanations. You do need a well-stocked spice rack to cook these recipes, and an endless supply of red onions and basmati rice, but the wonderful tastes that the subtle blends produce make any outlay really worthwhile. My particular favourites were the “Kalia Kabuli” (Dhofari fried black pepper beef with rice) and “Marak Hubar” (spicy Mirbat squid curry), both of which were also great as left-overs the next day. The Lamb kebab sandwiches were a definite improvement on western hamburgers, and the “Saladiyah” (Salalah-style seared fish in rice) would have been exceptional if I had used fresh instead of frozen/defrosted tuna. The taste was wonderful, but the fish texture lacking. On the sweet side, the date and sesame biscuits were very easy, gloriously messy to make and utterly delicious. I hadn’t met date paste before, but I am now a convert. I want to use it in the “Samar’s date cake” and the “Royal sticky date pudding”, and probably anything else that I think could be suitable.
The only recipe I had real problems with was the “Zanzibar biryani”. I should have paid attention to the accompanying note: “it is labor-intensive”. That does rather underplay the effort required. The end result was very tasty, but my husband and I were so exhausted at the end that it took a bit of the shine off. It serves me right for being over-ambitious. My husband – chief dish-washer and sous-chef – has banned me from attempting it again. He is, however, very keen on all the other recipes we have tried so far, and we are both looking forward to trying the rest.
I do wish now that I had been able to take up my brother’s invitation to visit him in Oman as this book is a fantastic advertisement for the people, the country and the cuisine. I am impatiently waiting for the book to be published, so that I can have my own hard copy (actually, I could do with two: one to splatter while cooking in the kitchen; and one to admire and leaf through on the coffee table). I will also be buying a copy for my brother, who was very interested when I mentioned the book to him.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I also appreciate how she will often say what's considered traditional and if/when she has tweaked a recipe to be lighter or easier to cook, or whatever the case may be. When I'm learning about a new cuisine, I always want to know what the "standard" rendition is, even I might not cook it, and this book seems to do that.