Pomegranate Symbolism for Spring

Pomegranates have been used as symbols to conjure everything from lust and sexual abandon, to fertility and prosperity, to blood and national identity, and even, as in Persephone’s case, death and rebirth. Pomegranates have been with us since the beginnings of civilization and their image has meanings that span the entirety of human existence. Read more about pomegranates on Zester Daily – HERE.

Lamb in a Pomegranate-Cardamom Sauce

With the autumn holidays rapidly approaching many of us are starting to give thought to what to prepare. A delicious main-course for omnivores is my Lamb in a Pomegranate-Cardamom Sauce pictured below. It is an original recipe based on Azeri/Iranian Fesenjan that is the best one-pot meal in town. Tender, juicy lamb is braised in a mouth-watering sweet and sour sauce that is served on … Read more

Mesopotamian Wildfowl Pie

There is a chill in the air and early mornings before the sun are best spent wrapped in a blanket, so it is time to welcome Autumn in once again. Sort of like a migratory bird taking its cues from the failing sun, I’ve realized that it is time for my annual exploration of Mesopotamian Cuisine. I have long wanted to try some of the … Read more

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