Arab Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook

Crocodile. Sept. 2021. 146p. Tr $25. ISBN 9781623719081.
K-Gr 3–Following Fairy Tale Feasts and Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts, the third entry in the “Literary Cookbook” series contains 14 delightfully entertaining original tales. The anecdotes are preceded by an introduction, “The Meal and the Conversation,” which defines Arabs as “people who mainly live in North Africa and the Middle East” and gives a brief history of cookbooks in that region. An Arab axiom, “Nothing heals the body like a good meal, and nothing soothes the soul like a good story,” is a fitting segue to the text. Each short fable is accompanied by one or more related recipes. For example, “A Pot of Coins,” about a miserly man who begs for food and money while hoarding his cash, is followed by two recipes: Shorbit Adas (simple lentil soup) and Manakish Zaatar (Zaatar flatbread). The book contains cautionary tales, a pourquoi story, and narratives in which individuals get their much-deserved comeuppance. All the tales, which are accompanied by numerous colorful illustrations, end with a moral. Boxes are scattered throughout the book and define Arab words, impart useful nuggets of information about the Arab world, or contain hints on preparing the recipes.
VERDICT These tales beg to be read and discussed; the many and varied recipes will be fun for classroom use or for families to share.

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