Monday, November 25, 2013

Snackistan by Sally Butcher- Cookbook Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

Hot on the heels of Veggiestan, Sally Butcher brings us Snackistan: a fictitious land where tummies are always full, and there’s a slightly naughty smile on every face. Snackistan does not, of course, exist, any more than Veggiestan does. It is, rather, a borderless confederation of the Middle East’s favourite foodstuffs. The simple fare that people actually eat on a daily basis: dishes they prepare at home, or cook to share with friends, or look forward to indulging in at the end of the week. We all like to snack – increasingly, formal dining is being nudged aside in favour of meze-style spreads. And, at the same time, street food has come of age. In malls and farmers markets across the world, food on the hoof has become a stylish and popular way to feed. This book picks out the Middle East’s most exciting street foods and meze dishes, together with a range of homely and simple snack recipes elicited from family and friends. Chapters comprise Nuts and Nibbles, Fishy Things, Meat on Sticks, Meat Not on Sticks, Salady Stuff, Hot Veggie Dishes, Mostly Carbs, Puds, & Something to Wash it Down With. The burst of flavours is intoxicating, as is Sally's trademark wit and attention to detail – a must-buy for all Middle Eastern food enthusiasts.
My thoughts:
 My knowledge of Middle Eastern street eats ends and begins with kebab, so I was super excited to see some of the very interesting recipes offered in Snackistan. Middle Eastern countries sometimes have similar foods to one another (not always, they have some very different, distinctly their own dishes as well!) but they always put their own spin on these dishes, so there are definitely some variations on the kebab (and other dishes) to be found here. The recipes I found myself most interested in jejeh kebab, beef kebab Georgian style and the shwarma kebab. I married a Persian man and Persian men are serious about their meat (as are their offspring apparently), so it is super important to be familiar with kebabs- essential really! This is not to say the other chapters didn't hold wonderful recipes on their own- There is everything from nuts & nibbles to seafood offerings, drinks desserts and several other wonderful types of food. These recipes are all snack-ish type foods, but I think pretty much any of them could be turned into a full meal! I also need to note that there are some fabulous dessert and drink recipes to be found in the pages of Snackistan. I personally would love to have some saffron, pistachio and rose water cream, thank you very much! This cookbook will keep me busy experimenting in the kitchen for a while, no doubt!   Here are some highlights of recipes you can find in Snackistan:
  • Shwarma Kebab
  • Beef Kebab Georgian Style
  • Borani-ye-Bademjun
  • Krygystani Noodles
  • Persian Style Herb Wraps
  • Algerian Street Stew
  • Ali's Mother's Pudding (Egyptian)
  • Iranian Date Squares
  • Turkish Coffee and Yogurt Cake
  • Saffron, Pistachios and Rose Water Cream
  • Chai Tea
The above is but a tiny peek into a recipe packed book! Something else I really enjoyed about Snackistan are the little stories sprinkled throughout. It gives a tiny peak of the culture that these foods are a part of. I found myself smiling more than once while reading those anecdotes. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Middle Eastern fare or trying new foods from different places!

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