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NPR BEST COOKBOOK 2021
Exploring the connection of food and culture with traditional and contemporary Syrian recipes that were inspired by personal stories
“As a Syrian who has had, due to the devastation of war, to spend most of his life outside Syria, Atassi presents the food that creates the feeling of home, gathering memories, flavors, and dishes both as a homage to his mother and his homeland. It is a remarkably generous book that wants you the reader to take pleasure in the food that means so much to him. And reading this book, I long, too, to savor those meals and those flavors.” —Nigella Lawson
The Syrian kitchen, shaped by influences from neighboring countries, has deep historical roots and evolved to perfection over thousands of years.
Sumac is filled with traditional and contemporary Syrian recipes that were inspired by personal stories. The gorgeous photography illustrates how beautiful this country was and still is, and family photographs add depth to the author’s history. Each chapter is filled with the author’s memories of family celebrations and the country that inspired the book. He tells stories of traditional weekend breakfasts in his grandmother’s garden and of the mezze his mother cooked for family gatherings. There are memories of the rich aromatic flavors of the Syrian kitchen where fragrant spices like the lemony and deep red sumac are prized ingredients.
In the author’s words: “With this book, I hope to build a bridge between Syrian culture and the rest of the world, with food the common denominator. But even more, I hope that Sumac will present a positive image of my country, in spite of all the unfortunate events now taking place in Syria.”
• Over eighty recipes, inspired by the author’s family recipes and his travels
• Beautiful location photography by Rania Kataf, who shot Humans of Damascus
• For anybody curious about a country so often in the news headlines but so difficult to visit as a tourist
About the Author
Anas Atassi was born in Homs, Syria and now lives in Amsterdam. Every summer the whole family went back to Homs to be together and celebrate the season. Good food was an important part of that celebration and Anas has remained a lover of Syrian cuisine which started his great love for cooking. Sumac: Recipes and Stories from Syria is his first cookbook.
NPR BEST COOKBOOK OF 2021
“As a Syrian who has had, due to the devastation of war, to spend most of his life outside Syria, Atassi presents the food that creates the feeling of home, gathering memories, flavors, and dishes both as a homage to his mother and his homeland. It is a remarkably generous book that wants you the reader to take pleasure in the food that means so much to him. And reading this book, I long, too, to savor those meals and those flavors.” — Nigella Lawson
"Sumac is an appealing cookbook for foodies who are looking to expand their culinary repertoires while learning about Syria." — Foreword Reviews
“[A]n unusual personal memoir-cookbook hybrid … It covers all the essentials common to culinary collections, with a spotlight on seasonings and sauces … Each of the seven sections is prefaced by one of Atassi’s memorable traditions, complete with family photographs and a full page story … The 80 recipes, all accompanied by captioned color photographs, reveal even more customs and tastes … An easy-to-try cuisine with no attitudes.” — Booklist, Starred Review
“Sumac is the vibrant gem … this book artfully captures the brilliance and beauty of the cuisine of Syria.” — Eat Your Books
“Atassi debuts with an inspired collection of traditional and contemporary recipes from his homeland … The recipes are accessible even for less experienced cooks, and … the ingredients should be easy to source at most grocery stores. A handy section on setting up a Syrian pantry and a collection of recipes for frequently used condiments and sauces will acquaint home cooks with the basics, and the author’s inviting tone and balance of instruction and reflection amp up appeal. Those with an interest in Syrian cuisine couldn’t hope for a better starting point.” — Publishers Weekly
“Atassi deeply loves and respects his traditions and cuisine, his family, the cooking of his heritage. If he doesn’t have nafas now, because he hasn’t been cooking as long as the men and women who raised him, he will certainly find it, even far from home … He recorded the recipes of his Syrian heritage to keep them alive … to remember everything about the family table and its celebrations in the midst of a decade-long civil war ….” — The Boston Globe
“A gorgeous new cookbook … Anas shares recipes (his mother’s) and stories from his homeland in Syria. Totally stunning ….” — BBC Good Food Magazine
“This book takes you on a journey into the lives of Syrians, before the war, remembering home, the best way they know how: through the dinner table of their ancestors. It is a delight and a celebration of everything that symbolizes hope and connection.You just want to cook everything in it. I loved it. It’s beautiful. ” — Joudie Kalla, author of Palestine on a Plate and Baladi
“When I'm looking to cook something transportive, I go straight to Sumac, Anas Atassi’s love letter to Syrian cuisine … Atassi is an accomplished Syrian chef who has spent most of his life living outside his homeland due to the civil war, and his efforts to memorialize and revive his family traditions through recipes are precious. I already know my winter table will be piled high with lamb koftas, musakhan wraps, and if I'm feeling ambitious, syrupy walnut baklava.” — Food52, "28 Best New Cookbooks of 2021"