Despite being the birthplace of much of Western culture, religion, language, science & history, the Eastern Mediterranean remains a place of veiled mystery; seductive, fragrant, textual & textured, simple & exotic. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current interest in foods from this region. Silvena Rowe’s Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume may not be the first book this year to look at foods of the Eastern Mediterranean, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful, evocative & with the author’s heritage & view point, a worthy addition to the kitchen shelves.
Silvena Rowe was born & raised, by her Turkish father, in the ancient city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Plovdiv, orginially ‘Philosophillis’, a Greek Macedonian, then Roman, Byzantine & finally Ottoman city is the second city of Bulgaria and for millenia, a crossroads for the mingling of Eastern & Western culture. All of these Empires, imported, sometimes forcibly cuisines, cultures & ingredients from their trading partners and neighbours resulting in a complex, multi-faceted cuisine
This, perhaps in part, explains why her food is equally comfortable, yet exotic to cooks familiar with the Western Mediterranean menu dominated by French & Italian influences.
Although not in any way a memoir, the book provides occasional glimpses of Silvena’s family traditions, Ottoman food culture, and her innovation.
Numerous interesting boreks, salads, kofte & gozleme beckon and will be cooked shortly. Ingredients may seem unusual, but most can be easily purchased in either a good supermarket or a Middle-Eastern deli.
What do we say: a copy has already gone home, & will be staying there.
What have we tested: Lamb & Pistachio Kebabs (p.135); Pomegranate Glazed Kebabs with Spiced Pomegranate Chutney (p.145); Fennel & Feta Kofte with Walnut Tarator (p.57); ) & Tomato, Pomegranate & Sumac Salad with a Pomegranate Dressing (p.126)
Who should get it:If you love Claudia Roden, Greg Malouf or Yotam Ottolenghi, this is a perfect compliment.
When can I get it: Out Now $65