17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A really lovely book,
This review is from: Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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.