Melding the rural and the urban with the local, regional, and global, Levantine cuisine is a mélange of ingredients, recipes, and modes of consumption rooted in the Eastern Mediterranean. Making Levantine Cuisine provides much-needed scholarly attention to the region’s culinary cultures while teasing apart the tangled histories and knotted migrations of food. Akin to the region itself, the culinary repertoires that comprise Levantine cuisine endure and transform—are unified but not uniform. This book delves into the production and circulation of sugar, olive oil, and pistachios; examines the social origins of kibbe, Adana kebab, shakshuka, falafel, and shawarma; and offers a sprinkling of family recipes along the way. The histories of these ingredients and dishes, now so emblematic of the Levant, reveal the processes that codified them as national foods, the faulty binaries of Arab or Jewish and traditional or modern, and the global nature of foodways. Making Levantine Cuisine draws from personal archives and public memory to illustrate the diverse past and persistent cultural unity of a politically divided region.
Anny Gaul is an assistant professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Graham Auman Pitts is a visiting professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Vicki Valosik is the multimedia and publications editor at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
This is an admirable and timely collection addressing key topics at the interface of Middle Eastern and culinary studies. The scholarship is excellent; and recipes, reminiscences, and poetry add complementary modes of describing modern Levantine cuisine. It’s wonderful to have so many insights into the relations between culinary, political, and economic history of this fascinating and pivotal part of the world. There’s lots to love about this volume.
~Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
This important collection is an absolute delight. Bringing together historians, anthropologists, and literary scholars, but also poets and food writers, it is interdisciplinary in the true sense of the term. Taken together, these enlightening essays do more than simply provide us with new insight into Middle Eastern foodways: they also open up new conversations and suggest new ways of looking at the world. This book is indispensable reading for all those interested in the region's rich culinary cultures.
~Andrew Arsan, author of Lebanon: A Country in Fragments
[Making Levantine Cuisine] suggests that food and the fiery debates around it can shed light on histories of inequality and struggle in the region... By examining the food history, culture, and politics of the modern Levant, the pieces reveal a culinary history that is, as one contributor put it, 'simultaneously hidden and deliciously obvious.'
A comprehensive and inviting account of Levantine Cuisine...As an inviting and accessible read for food scholars, ethnographers, graduate students, and home cooks, this edited volume engages readers to discuss method, theory, recipes, geography, and research in a new light. Whether discussing kebabs, pistachios, or hummus, the volume offers so much to think with, cook, and snack on.
A Note on Transliteration
Introduction: Making Levantine Cuisine (Anny Gaul and Graham Auman Pitts)
Part I: Making Levantine Food Cultures
1. When Did Kibbe Become Lebanese? The Social Origins of National Food Culture (Graham Auman Pitts and Michel Kabalan)
2. Adana Kebabs and Antep Pistachios: Place, Displacement, and Cuisine of the Turkish South (Samuel Dolbee and Chris Gratien)
3. The Transformation of Sugar in Syria: From Luxury to Everyday Commodity (Sara Pekow)
4. Pistachios and Pomegranates: Vignettes from Aleppo (Essay and Recipe) (Antonio Tahhan)
Part II: Revisiting Foodways in Israel-Palestine
5. Palestinian Urban Food Venues as Contact Zones between Arabs and Jews during the British Mandate Period (Dafna Hirsch)
6. The Companion to Every Bite: Palestinian Olive Oil in the Levant (Anne Meneley)
7. Even in a Small Country Like Palestine, Cuisine Is Regional (Essay and Recipes) (Reem Kassis)
Part III: Levantine Cuisine beyond Borders
8. Embodying Levantine Cooking in East Amman, Jordan (Susan MacDougall)
9. Shakshūka for All Seasons: Tunisian Jewish Foodways at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Noam Sienna)
10. Unmaking Levantine Cuisine: The Levant, the Mediterranean, and the World (Harry Eli Kashdan)
11. Fine Dining to Street Food: Egypt’s Restaurant Culture in Transition (Essay and Recipes) (Suzanne Zeidy)
Conclusion: Writing Levantine Cuisine (Anny Gaul with poetry by Zeina Azzam)
Further Reading and Cooking
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