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COOKBOOK: SOUK by Nadia Zerouali & Merijn Tol

| 20 October 2018 | Reply

COOKBOOK: SOUK by Nadia Zerouali & Merijn Tol

Simon & Schuster Australia
April 2018
Hardcover, $49.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Cookbook
8/10

Reviewing cookbooks when you’re on a diet is a horrible idea – but here we are. Subtitled Feasting At The Mezze Table, Souk is a celebration of the Middle Eastern equivalent of tapas – “it is also a way of life” the authors declare in their introduction – which means we will be spanning Greece and Cyprus, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan and Syria, but be in no doubt that the primary focus here is of the cuisine of Lebanon.

And what a cuisine it is – based on gloriously fresh seasonal produce, full of distinctive herbs and fruits, the mezze table is one of plentiful bounty ideally shared by loved ones over lively conversation.

Souk starts with a glossary of pantry items – always handy when approaching an exotic cuisine – and launches into drinks. Those of us familiar with the firewater that was Balinese Arak in the ‘80s might be nervous to approach Lebanese Arak, but they are like chalk and cheese. Oregano lemonade made fresh a few hours before drinking, while pomegranate molasses lemonade requires only long enough to cool after boiling, sour cherry just needs to be chilled.

Similarly, much of the savoury food on offer involves quick preparation – these techniques date back many generations, to a time before refrigeration. Prepare, enjoy, clean and do it all again tomorrow.

You’ll expect hummus and not be disappointed. Likewise eggplant spread, fattoush, labne and kibbeh balls all feature in multiple, mouth-watering forms. Armenian carrots stuffed with rice, lamb and spices served with a tamarind espresso sauce sounds amazing, as does whole dory wrapped in vine leaves with seven spice mix, but for the most part the recipes are quite traditional – not that that is a bad thing. Everything looks and reads perfectly fresh and vibrant. I’m going to go grab a snack now.

Shane

Category: Book Reviews

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