I started on a high with this book - the first chapters were enthralling, and it was patent the author holds France, Spain and their cuisines dearly in her stomach and heart. Somewhere towards the end of the Italian section, my enjoyment started a slow decline. Still, only once I came upon Germany, I found myself picking up another book more often than this, which resulted in a longer than usual finish time for me.
Dont get me wrong, I didn't dislike the book; it just started to feel a little monotonous and lacked the author's passion for the leading cuisines. I gained an insight into some countries food I wasn't aware of and enjoyed seeing different cooking techniques - I just needed a little more garnish.
With regards to Turkey and my oh so beloved Turkish cuisine, I felt a slight let down.
The author stated she chose to explore Istanbul's cuisine rather than other parts of Turkey "because you find there a true cross-section of Turkish food, as in many capital cities...' Moving over the capital city err I don't disagree with her sentiment: Istanbul is a cornucopia of regional influences due to the movement of so many millions of people, both Turkish and foreign, but I think that misses the beautiful specialities that some much of Turkey offers and it would have been wonderful for that to have been explored the way that France, Spain and Italy was.
Turkish cuisine often gets lumped under the heading of Middle Eastern food (mostly correctly, but there should be some sidenotes), and it feels like there is a constant emphasis on meat dishes. Meat from homemade kofte, slow pit-roasted to flavoursome kebabs are of course legendary and done well unforgettable, but there is so much more. On the other hand, Turkey was set aside but so much of the ingredients attrıbuted to other middle eastern countries in the later chapters connected to Turkey and their use here, but they were completely overlooked.
Some vegetable-based dishes were mentioned in the chapter but mainly concerning Ottoman and again Istanbul. It felt like a gaping hole, to not say the comforting butter-laden corn favouring Blacksea with its famous anchovies, nuts and honey. The seafood and greenery rich Aegean and Medieterainian diets, the seasonally adaptive inner Anatolia and the border cities have so much neighbouring influence in the local fare.
Turkish recipes included deep-fried anchovies 'hamsi' - Great and not always found and Beef meatballs 'Köfte', so predictable! (Well, maybe lamb would have been more so).
I can't help wishing the author had given a little more real estate for exploring Turkish cuisine. Musa Dağdeviren, Çiya Istanbul restaurant and his all-important work on traditional Turkish cuisine is mentioned briefly. The publication of this book before Musa Dağdeviren's Chef's table feature on Netflix and the release of his treasure trove book 'The Turkish Cookbook', of course. Anyone looking to discover more about Turkish cuisine should start here.
Talking of mentions, my favourite part of the book was the 'Further Reading' section: I've added so many books onto my Amazon & Goodreads wishlists, including a couple of Turkish ones I hadn't come across before:
Turkish cuisine has so much more to offer than well-known dishes, and it's a rabbit hole that every foodie jump into with arms and stomach wide open. (This does also make me question how detailed the other cuisines were, of course.
I'm glad to have read this book, but I think it could have had a little more passion injected into the other countries.
3,5 Stars: Somewhere between I liked it, and it was OK ((5 Stars for the simple tomato pasta sauce, though - that was precisely what I'm looking for. ))
Like to discover more books about Turkish cuisine: Check out my Book Corner by tapping the picture below...
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you wish to, you can click the link to purchase the product at the same list price, and with no extra cost can help to support my blog (and the coffee that fuels me with the energy I need to write more post like these.
For full details & my disclosure policy, please Click Here.