What could suit a sun-filled land better than vegetarian recipes? In the introduction to The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian, author Sally Butcher writes that the Middle East regions "are simmering, bubbling, and bursting with sumptuous vegetarian traditions and recipes." Butcher, who writes as well as she cooks, has a ready wit which accompanies her zest for vegetables, and her love of the Middle Eastern way of cooking those veggies.
Inspired by the the Middle Eastern way of cooking vegetables, she invents a land called Veggiestan. She writes: "Even vegetables that we thought we knew pretty well will, with a twist of Middle Eastern expertise, change before our very eyes, like a neighbor finding her naughty, inner floozy." We laugh at Butcher's humor, even as we want to discover how the "inner floozy" is elevating lentils to a new status (Chilied Peach Stew!), or watch tabbouleh grow richer and tastier with optional veggies and large handfuls of herbs. Middle Easterners love their herbs, and, though nutritional charts ignore herbs in favor of common vegetables, herbs are powerhouses when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Butcher's recipes are gathered from the Middle East as well as Greece, Turkey, Iran Lebanon, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Cyprus, but has unravelled mysteries to make all recipes available to both pro and novice cook alike. The recipes range from fragrant Persian noodle rice to gingery tamarind eggplants, pink pickled turnips and rose petal jam, and include such sweet treats as Dessert Couscous with Date 'Tagine,' or Date Pastries with Figgy Ice Cream. This is a book to discover and savor. There is color photography throughout by Yuki Sugiura.
Once again, we want to make note of the choices made by Interlink Books when choosing a cookbook to publish. Working to unify the world, their choices are always ethical, as well as discriminating.