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To Learn About the Foods of the Banned Countries, Open These Books

January 30, 2017

In the wake of last week's presidential directive, chef and cookbook author Liz Prueitt and Omnivore Books' Celia Sack reminded us of one small way we can learn about those who live, come from, and identify with the targeted parts of the world: Take a look at your cookbook collection.

Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan. And of course, Mexico #openborders #immigrantcuisine

A photo posted by Elisabeth Prueitt (@lizprueitt_tartine) on

Here are their recommendations for cookbooks that offer teachings on and recipes from particular countries and regions affected by last week's directives, along with a few books from our own list. The selection below is a jumping-off point (rather than an exhaustive syllabus); please add your suggestions to the comments below!

  • Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan
    A love letter to modern-day Iran, with recipes and stories from the country's home kitchens.
  • Iraqi Family Cookbook by Kay Karim
    An introduction to Iraq's cuisine, culture, and history by way of 150 recipes from the author's family and all regions of the country.
  • The Aleppo Cookbook by Marlene Matar
    A comprehensive guide to one of the world's most vibrant, ancient food cities, from an esteemed chef and cooking teacher.
  • Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck
    An ode to centuries-old Aleppian Jewish food traditions, from a first-generation Syrian-Jewish American.
  • Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour
    A guide to Persian home cooking from self-taught cook, food writer, and supper club host Sabrina Ghayour.
  • Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour
    Consider this a booster pack to Persiana, with more modern Persian recipes from Ghayour.
  • Tastes of Africa by Justice Kamanga
    A sweeping look at the indigenous and more modern cuisines across Africa.
  • Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid
    World traveler Duguid uses the region's shared culinary traditions to draw connections between, tell stories about, and share recipes from Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kurdistan.
  • Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark
    Dishes from London's Moro restaurant, where flavors and ingredients are drawn largely from Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean, regions inextricably linked during the Moors' 700-year occupation.
  • The Art of Syrian Cookery by Helen Corey
    A collection of 240 Syrian and Lebanese recipes, with historical background, that were passed down between the women of the author's family for generations.
  • Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali
    As much history book as cookbook, this work features recipes drawn from medieval sources along with contemporary creations that evoke those same flavors.
  • Africa News Cookbook by Tami Hultman
    Published originally by Africa News, a North Carolina-based educational news agency, this 1986 book includes recipes that span the continent (and offers substitution suggestions for non-African kitchens).
  • Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf
    A chronicle of world-renowned chef Greg Malouf's month-long journey to document the culinary history of his Lebanese family, from neighboring Iran to the mediterranean to North Africa.
  • New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia
    Shafia adapts the classic Iranian flavors and ingredients she grew up with to fit her current cooking style: vegetable focused and seasonally driven.
  • Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo
    An American Book Award-winning book—part memoir, part reportage—on civilian life (and food) amidst war in Baghdad and Beiruit.
  • The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
    An expanded and updated version of 1972 Book of Middle Eastern Food, this edition includes over 800 recipes that reflect the always-shifting food landscape of the Middle East and that draw on Iranian, Arab, Turkish, and Northern African traditions.
  • Golden: Sweet & Savory Baked Delights from the Ovens of London's Honey & Co. by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
    Sweet and savory Middle Eastern baked goods from London's tiny (and highly touted) Honey & Co. restaurant.
  • Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson
    Chef Marcus Samuelsson returns to Ethiopia, the country where he was born, and sets off traveling all over the huge continent, sharing 200 recipes— both original creations and traditional dishes—along the way, from Zanzibar to Nigeria.
  • Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry
    From food justice activist and chef Bryant Terry, a collection of over vegan 100 recipes using the staple ingredients and foundational flavors of the African Diaspora.
  • The Africa Cookbook by Jessica B. Harris
    African Diaspora and foodways expert Jessica B. Harris' book includes over 200 contemporary and traditional recipes from Sudan to Algeria, demonstrating the vastness of the African continent, its rich history, and the diversity and scope of its cooking styles.
  • The Food of Oman by Felicia Campbell
    Though the country itself is small, the culinary diversity of Oman reflects a food history routed in Bedouin culture and shaped by Arab sea voyagers and the East African, Persian, Asian flavors they carried. (Oman is not on the banned list, but its cuisine is heavily influenced by Yemen.)
  • The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook
    New York's Hot Bread Kitchen employs low-income women, many of whom are recent immigrants, who share recipes for the breads they grew up eating, like Mexican concha and Persian nan-e barbari.

While not on the list of countries affected by Friday's executive order, we also wanted to include some books on Mexican cooking in response to President Trump's plan to build a wall along the border. Here are just a few:

  • Eat Mexico by Lesly Téllez
    Recipes from Mexico's street vendors, markets, and homestyle restaurants.
  • Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez and JJ Goode
    Chef Santibañez's book takes readers through the foundational sauces of Mexican cooking: moles, adobos, guacamoles, salsas, and pipianes.
  • The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy
    The comprehensive guide to Mexican cooking, from one of the most respected authorities on the subject (her carnitas are genius).

To learn more about some of the mentioned books, follow the links here:

What did we miss? Add more "required reading" to the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MarieGlobetrotter
  • susan g
    susan g
  • luvcookbooks
  • Pia Korani
    Pia Korani
  • cranberry
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MarieGlobetrotter January 31, 2017
Thank you for these inspirational recommendations. A very useful reminder that immigration is a richness and we should welcome new cultures into our own
susan G. January 31, 2017
And let us thank the people behind the recipes, and their mothers and grandmothers. And if there were men in the kitchen, them too.
luvcookbooks January 31, 2017
Tank you! Ox "Golden".
Pia K. January 31, 2017
thank you so much Food52! food is a universal language and diving into these books help us to digest and process whats going on in the world today. take our minds to other places for a little while...
cranberry January 31, 2017
Thank you! At our house, food has always been a reason to come together. Thinking we need more of that...
Amy P. January 30, 2017
Love this! Thank you.
turtle_island January 30, 2017
Thanks for sharing these books with us!
E January 30, 2017
<3 <3 <3 Thank you :) Gonna check out the books here that I don't know of already. Haven't heard of a lot of them, so this is really cool. LOVE this.
Bevi January 30, 2017
Taste of Persia is a beautiful book, and the recipes are fantastic. I was inspired to paint a gourd based on a beautiful photo of a mosque featured in Duguid's book.