Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Food Celebration

Food can cut across social barriers, spanning class and sectarian lines (though it can also, of course, reinforce them). Making and sharing food are essential to maintaining the rhythms of everyday life.

This is excerpted from Annia Ciezadlo's new memoir, Day of Honey : A Memoir of Food, Love And War. If I could I would share the entire book with you, but alas I cannot. Ciezadlo early on sheeplishly discloses that she cannot contain her passions, or her opinions; they just tumble out. She can never stop eating or talking or writing. She is not without swooning doubt, and to root herself to the earth she cooks and she eats. That could be said about a lot of people, but Ciezadlo is a roving journalist who has immersed herself in cultures where she is the other. Through food she finds familiarity; she is still other but finds a place for herself among the hot sour salty sweet. Ciezadlo pursues anthropology through food, across modern battlefields, and into kitchens. This book was inspired by the new context she finds herself in, in love with her perfect opposite who also happens to discover himself suddenly Arab in post 9/11 America.

Mohamad is a refugee from Lebanon's civil war, with a deep intelligence and heavy reserve. Where Ciezadlo wages oratory, he observes. He hardly speaks, but when he does it is with razor precision. He also is among the most picky eaters on the planet, whereas she will eat anything, anywhere. And so begins their story. It takes them to many places--Beirut, Baghdad, and Turkey, among others. I found Ciezadlo's insights fierce and full of heart. Her book reminded me a lot of what Camilla Gibb was doing in her novel The Beauty of Humanity Movement, with Old man Hung, who in Hanoi nurtured himself and those around him through the turmoil of the post- "American War" with his steaming bowls of Pho.

Horror, Truth, Beauty, Full Bellies: Yes!

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