Chef Miles Collins Cooks from The Silk Road

Chef Miles Collins has just cooked and reviewed one of the recipes – Lamb and Rhubarb Stew – from The Silk Road Gourmet Volume One over on his site. Miles is a talented professional chef, and a brilliant photographer who focuses on subjects from life and work in gourmet kitchens to the nature and wildlife of his native Lincolnshire, England. All in all – a … Read more

The Real Sinbad the Sailor

The Voyages of Sinbad tell of giant, magical creatures: whales the size of islands, snakes so large that they could swallow elephants, and rukh (roc) birds so large that they could carry a caravan of men on their backs. Tales of these creatures repeated across cultures and through the ages has made most readers assume that they were simply pigments of a colorful imagination – … Read more

The Changing Landscape of Mesopotamian Flavors

I’m at it again – questioning the assumptions and conclusions Jean Bottero made when examining the Old Babylonian culinary tablets from Yale University. Is it some manic spirit that grabs me each Spring and forces me back into the ancient Near East or is it just that it is an activity that grabs my attention from time to time? Whatever the cause, those of you … Read more

A Caucasus Celebration

We had friends over again, and as usual, I spent a couple of days in the kitchen preparing for their visit.  This time I whipped up a regional tasting menu of Caucasian specialties from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.  As they ate and in between the “yummy sounds” my friends kept on commenting that there were, “so many flavors on the plate”. Many thanks to my … Read more

Silk Road in the News #5: Areni Cave Wine Production

The earliest known winery has been uncovered in a cave in the mountains of Armenia. A vat to press the grapes, fermentation jars and even a cup and drinking bowl dating to about 6,000 years ago were discovered in a cave complex near Areni, Armenia by an international team of researchers. They also found grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes and dozens of dried vines. … Read more

A Super Supra

We toasted to the mountains and how they have perseved Georgian culture over the millennia, to our ancestors, to our homelands, the men stood and toasted to the beautiful women in their lives and we all toasted to the future.  Those were amongst the many toasts that we shared over glasses of Pheasant’s Tears last night at Levante’s restaurant in downtown Washington’s Dupont Circle. Our tamada, … Read more

Recipe: Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

This is an unusual stew from the Northeast of Iran near Mashhad that borders on Turkmenistan. It uses that Central Asian wonder – rhubarb – as a souring agent to complement the earthy lamb, much as sour plums or sour cherries are used. Like many other Central Asian dishes, it also relies on herbs rather than spices for much of its flavor. It’s a great … Read more

Silk Road Roma

“We always knew the Gypsies were coming when we heard the light tinkling of silver bells coming up the lane. The sound of the bells was delicate and light and fell in rhythm with the trot of the horses pulling the covered wagon. We didn’t know where they came from, there were no Gypsy encampments nearby, but they came to the house two or three … Read more

Happy Nowruz! (Persian New Year)

For today’s post in celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, we have a guest blogger, Azita from the wonderful site Turmeric and Saffron. Azita is an Iranian who celebrates the cuisine and culture of Iran on her website. In addition to being an accomplished cook, she is also talented in food styling and food photography and regularly illustrates the recipes on her site with … Read more

Some Mesopotamian Ingredients Revealed

I had a few stray hours last night and was reading Jean Bottero’s Textes Culinaire Mesopotamien and was struck by the number of ingredients that were unknown in the Mesopotamian recipes. How were modern cooks supposed to give these recipes an authentic try if so many of the ingedients were basically up for grabs? Loving a mystery, I jumped online to do some research. I … Read more

Afghan Cardamom Cookies

Today I’m cooking for a holiday get together with friends we’re having this evening, but wanted to share a delicious recipe with you that is just perfect for this time of year. These Afghan cardamom cookies are spicy and savory, and deliver a blast of cardamom flavor as they melt in your mouth. They are also really simple to make, and take no more than … Read more

Afghanistan Akbar!

From the time of the Persian emperor, Darius the Great in 500 BCE, the Afghan people have, at least from time to time, been engaged in resistance against foreign powers bent on conquering them. Even when outsider tyrants succeeded in bringing down one or more of the most powerful tribes, revolution percolated in the mountains and countryside and fed rebellion against the foreign invaders. An … Read more

When Pheasants Cry

Last week I had the honor and the pleasure of attending a wine tasting at the Georgian Embassy in Washington, DC.  Already a fan of Georgian wines – especially of the robust red Mukuzani and the full-bodied, white Tvishi – I attended the tasting to discern the differences between the wines from the featured vintners from Khaketi and the Teliani Valley. Georgia has some of … Read more

Ramadan Kareem

The time of Ramadan is almost upon us once again. Since so many of the land and maritime routes of the Silk Road ran through predominantly Muslim countries, and since Muslim traders played such an important role in moving the goods and ideas around that led to a globalization of the ancient world, I wanted to take a moment to explain the holiday to non-Muslims … Read more