Kirkus Review of Arab Fairy Tale Feasts

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“This charming third installment in the Fairy Tale Feasts Collection turns to the Middle East and North Africa.

In Marrakesh, Morocco, a young girl gets caught stealing apricots from a garden and wittily explains her way out of the situation. In Cairo, Egypt, a mean miser loses his hoard of money in a swift blow of poetic justice. A pourquoi story set near the Sahara Desert explains why chickens and ostriches cannot fly. This is just a sampling of the 14 original morality tales (not fairy tales, as the book’s title misleadingly promises) gathered here. The structure of the fables—a moral is stated at the end of each one—will feel familiar to both Arab and non-Arab readers. Each story incorporates alimentary motifs and themes and is followed by a complementary recipe from the Arab world; budding cooks will feel inspired to try making mehallabeyat qamaruddin, shish taouk, shorbit adas, and more. English translations of the names of the dishes are provided. The recipes—most of which require easily obtainable ingredients—are uncomplicated, with notes on substitutions and optional add-ins. With the inclusion of backmatter notes covering Arabic literary traditions, origins of the Arabic words used throughout the book, and bits of culinary history, there is much to be learned, even for readers familiar with Arab culture. Both stories and recipes are enhanced with folk art–style illustrations that add a traditional feel, but the dishes aren’t always portrayed accurately in the artwork.

An engaging literary cookbook that is a feast for the eyes, the heart, and the palate. (Fables/cookbook. 8-adult).”