Friday, November 05, 2010
Foodie Book Review - Orchards in the Oasis
by Josceline Dimbleby
Quadrille Publishing Ltd. (currently available only in the UK)
Foodie memoirs are one of my favorite reads. I particularly love them if they have an exotic setting as they let this avid armchair traveler experience foreign lands merely by turning a page. Because of this, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review Josceline Dimbleby's memoir, Orchards in the Oasis, in which she paints charming portraits of the many countries she's visited over her lifetime. Her reminiscences of trips to Peru and to Burma, to Morocco and Damascus, bring the sights and sounds - and flavors - of these countries to life.
One of my favorite chapters is the one on Persia, entitled The Road to Yazd. In it her descriptions of the country - still under the rule of the Shah - make it seem downright welcoming to Western visitors. She even gets to visit a rather sacred and off-limits Zoroastrian "Tower of Silence" where the people of this faith disposed of their dead, even into modern times.
Even the not-so-exotic passages in the book, detailing time spent in the Southwest of England and in London, are nonetheless full of engaging charm. I want to visit these places of which she speaks, and particularly to taste the food she's eaten. And I can. Blessed with a fine palate as well as a good memory, Dimbleby has been able to create interpretations of dishes she enjoyed during her travels and has included the recipes in the book, accompanied by gorgeous color photographs. The ones I find most interesting are her Crispy Pigeon Pie, inspired by Moroccan bstilla, and a Peruvian Beef in Chilli and Chocolate Sauce.
Overall, I enjoyed the journey on which I traveled with Ms Dimbleby, not without a little jealousy at her many excursions to countries I'll likely never visit on my own. And I plan to try at least a few of the recipes...maybe this weekend.