Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber

Reading the haunting lyricism of Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent. It is a book about people in exile from country, from soul, from love, from desire. People who ache for a homeland, a love, a friendship, a loved-one, a taste from childhood. How stories, food, friendship, writing, can fill an ache if only temporarily. The story strips the skin back, rattles the reader's ghost bones, dares the reader to find peace.

The main character, Sirine is a middle-eastern chef. Food, obviously, plays into the novel. Yesterday I made Mousakka, today cumin-infused lentils. Middle East tastes are like comfort food. Above is a photo of my daughter, Coranna, making her first Baklava. I made one pan for my book group and she made another pan for my writing group. Now what I want is a hot cheese-dripping Kunefe with milky vanilla salep to remind me of wandering the cold, wet cobble streets of Antakya in December.

Here's my Baklava secret:
Use crushed pistachios instead of the walnuts. Also, don't use honey, use sugar for the sauce. After the sauce has boiled and thickened, add lemon juice. The lemon juice gives it a remarkable tang.


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