Guest review by my friend Lynn
Salmagundi is a 17th century salad of cold meat, eggs, anchovies, vegetables and, well, stuff. Or a plate of cold cuts. Or possibly a stew. Or… well, you get the idea. The latest offering from the author of Persian in Peckham and Veggiestan is subtitled ‘Salads from the Middle East and beyond,’ which, if not an actual misrepresentation, is certainly a significant understatement.
This book embraces an extremely elastic definition of the term salad and brings together recipes from all over the world, encompassing everything from mezze dips, starters and light lunches to pulaos, substantial meat and fish mains (including a ‘steak and chips salad’!) and fruit-based desserts. There are some particularly eye-catching East and Southeast Asian salads and numerous references to ‘superfoods’ in some wonderful-looking dishes labelled *super healthy*.
Salmagundi is intended for browsing as well as cooking, beautifully designed and conversational in style, full of puns, asides and digressions into personal anecdotes, historical and etymological notes and folktales. There are notes on growing herbs and whole chapters devoted to dressings and garnishes (or ‘The Dressing Room’ and ‘The Prop Cupboard’). None of the recipes is difficult, though some require more time than others and if you don’t live or shop in a city, some of the ingredients may be harder to find, depending on the focus of your local small grocers. It should be worth the hunt, though, as everything looks tempting.
Many thanks to Pavilion for our review copy of the book.