Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War Review

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War

Day of Honey makes me hungry. Not just for the unusual and exotic foods that Annia Ciezadlo describes with an unlimited vocabulary in several languages, but also hungry to explore the customs associated with food, and to peer beneath the layers of politics and war to see the real life going on underneath. Ciezadlo writes, "Food and drink were like truth serum. People would say one thing when you first met them....gradually, bite by bite, they would reveal what they really thought."

Ciezadlo and her Lebanese husband make their home, or what passes for a home during war, first in Baghdad, then in Beirut. As reporters, their jobs are to cover the conflicts that ebb and flow around them. In Day of Honey Ciezadlo goes beneath the war, the soldiers, the sights and sounds of bombs and gunfire, and looks to the daily life happening in the surroundings of struggle. She writes of the food, the tales behind the food, and the social customs of preparation and eating. The word 'civilian' becomes a generalization for the individuals Annia comes to know through her search for food and its stories amid the circumstances of war.

Even though the focus was on food, I learned much that I did not know about the wars throughout the Middle East, and how the United States' role in them is viewed by the people in those regions. The stories behind the food were enjoyable, and even more, the customs surrounding them. A more adventurous cook than I will experiment with the recipes in the back of the book, but will have to visit a specialty grocery store for exotic ingredients to create the exotic flavors of the Middle East.

Three out of five stars.