For the second Cook the Books Club, we were set to read The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. What a lovely book! Growing up as a Jordanian American in New York State in the 1960s and 70s can't have been easy (although I suspect it might be worse now) but the story is told with a lightness of heart that carries you past that.
There were a lot of parts of the book that resonated for me - I guess it is the migrant experience. Some of the things that Bud says when he goes back to Jordan are the things my grandmother would say after going back to Switzerland. I also very much liked the bit in the foreward, thanking people for accepting her memories, however embellished they may be.
And always, at the centre is the food. All the meals she recounts are enticing. I wanted to make and eat all of it! I especially loved the story she told about when she was feeling very down about being Arabic and announced to her aunt that she hated Arab food. So her aunt says "Let's make baklava - it's Greek; baklawa is Arab".
But in the end, I went with savoury dishes. I would have loved to do some of the meat dishes, grilled over charcoal, but the weather just has not been conducive to getting out the barbecue. In the end I decided to make her "Lost childhood pita bread" because I bought my copy of the book second hand, and that was the one recipe where the previous owner had made a note against the recipe. I love writing in my cookbooks and felt drawn to this other person who had noted what quantity a sachet of yeast is.
So - pita bread (which needs some work!), roast lamb shoulder in the marinade for "distract the neighbours chicken" (absolutely delicious), yoghurt flavoured with garlic and some roast courgettes. Then the following day, the leftover lamb and pita was served at lunch with some homemade hummus.