By Rose Previte
2023 • Abrams
Rose Previte introduces readers to the eclectic cultures of the region spanning North Africa, the Caucuses, and the Middle East through food, offering a nuanced, informed, and yet entirely warm and personal way in. Before opening her beloved Washington, DC, restaurants Maydān and Compass Rose, Previte traveled old spice trade routes to learn from home cooks, and it became apparent how adjacent cooking traditions informed and folded back on one another, creating a constant dialogue.
Ancient foodways don’t recognize geopolitical boundaries. For instance, the harissa found in Tunisia is incredibly similar to the adjika used in Georgia, and the lineage of baking bread in clay ovens stretches across the region with strikingly parallel methods. And in that vein, the word maydān has roots in a number of languages and has been crossing borders for generations, from Tangier to Tehran and from Beirut to Batumi. It means “gathering place” or “square,” often located in the middle of a city, and originates in Arabic, but translates to Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Ukrainian, and even Latin. To Previte, it symbolizes how food brings us together and everyone can add a personal twist.
Previte’s culinary journey began at home with her Lebanese American mother and Sicilian American father. Many of the recipes and techniques in this book were imparted to Previte by home cooks, often grandmothers, whom she learned from on her travels in the Middle East and beyond. With more than 150 recipes, Maydān offers guidance on how to build our own tables, taking cues from the way Previte’s Lebanese family ate growing up; emphasizing mixing and matching; scaling up or down; making a weeknight meal such as Tunisian Chicken Skewers with Loobieh bi Zeit (Green Bean Salad); creating the ideal spread of Lebanese small plates for entertaining guests; and a project day (the cheesy Georgian bread Khachapuri), all of which can be paired with one of the easy-to-source Georgian and Lebanese wines Rose recommends).
Both accessible and delicious, the food in this cookbook is perfectly suited to the home cook because it is not fussy and everything on the table is meant to be shared.
Tags: african, Books, global, individual chef, middle eastern, North African, Pre-Order, restaurant, restaurants