Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Language of Baklava : Review & Contest


Why is it about autobiographies with recipes? Some authors don't just share their experiences but they share the flavors of their life. It's like the proof that what they are telling us really happened.

Diana Abu Jaber's memoir The Language of Baklava would be a treat to read even if there were no recipes. She shares in great detail the pleasures of life, including meals. But it's her humor that will make your fall for her writing and her family.

"Marry, don't marry," Auntie Aya says as we unfold layers of dough to make an apple strudel. "Just don't have your babies unless it's absolutely necessary."

"How do I know if it's necessary?"

She stops and stares ahead, her hands gloved in flour, "Ask yourself, Do I want a baby or do I want to make a cake? The answer will come to you almost like bells ringing." She flickers her fingers in the air by her ear. "For me, almost always, the answer was cake."


The book is about growing up in two cultures--her mother's American culture and the bedouin Jordanian culture of her father. It's a book about family and growing up and love and food. A blend of exotic and familiar, of Angel food cake and Baklava. Utimately the emotions and feelings expressed are universal. Each chapter is filled with stories and sprinkled with recipes and I savored each one of them.

And now--a contest! Here is the beginning of an Arabic saying
"One's eating shows one's _____"

a) wealth
b) family
c) love
d) character

Fill in the blank by choosing the correct final word and post it in the comment section along with your email. The first three to guess correctly will win a copy of The Language of Baklava. (Note: I will mail the book to any address you choose, provided it is in the US, or you can pick it up and I will treat you to coffee)