The Palestinian Table
By Reem Kassis.
2017, Phaidon, 978-0-71487-4-968, $39.95 hb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on September 9, 2020
The foods of Palestine embrace a wide variety and geography, from “the mountains of the Galilee to the valleys of the south, from the coast of Yaffa all the way to the West Bank,” writes Kassis. At the center lies Jerusalem, “a melting pot of foods, religion, and cultures.” This flavorful collection of 150 recipes leans heavily on tried-and-true specialties from the best sources: “a bevy of aunts, grandmothers, and family cooks.” The author wisely doesn’t mess too much with the delicious, nutritional simplicity of split lentil soup, “for many people the default or official Ramadan soup.” She takes readers, step by step, through the mechanical process of baking Jerusalem sesame bagels, which Palestinians unapologetically claim are the best in the country. Spice-infused Bedouin tea, redolent with sage, is based on a desert formula, while muhamarra (roasted red-pepper dip made with honey, tahini, paprika and ground coffee) was a Syrian specialty of the author’s great-great-grandmother.