How often has the phrase ‘of Middle Eastern appearance’ been employed to evoke fear and prejudice? This cookbook is here to challenge that.
Chef Joseph Abboud’s food looks Middle Eastern because its proud origins are a little bit Lebanese, a little bit Persian, and a little bit Turkish – but it also represents the heart of an honest and enduring eatery in inner Melbourne’s Brunswick, named for the 13th-century poet.
This is food cooked with an egalitarian ethos and, yes, with soul. Forget veg-forward, this is hierarchy-free food; salads, fish, veg, meat and toum (with almost everything) all command their place in a meal at Joe’s table. Regulars will give thanks for classics like the three-cheese Sigaras, the Rumi Meatballs and the famous Lamb Shoulder; everyone else has the joy of discovery ahead. To roll call a few, there’s a Fattoush for Every Season, a delightfully ‘inauthentic’ Broccoli Tabbouleh, Joe’s mother’s Eggplant M’Nazleh and The Quail That Anthony Bourdain Ate.
Joe is wary of sharing the 60-plus recipes in this book, not for fear of divulging secrets so much as exposing how simple his cooking is. Certainly, his intention is not that this book represents the end for these favourites. Rather, the opposite is what he hopes for: ‘For their new custodians, it’s just the beginning. Whatever that looks like.’