Nelida Nassar 11.22.2013
Barbara Abdeni Massaad, the uninhibited and outspoken cookbook writer is known for her commitment, passion and is as an ardent protagonist to Lebanese authentic cooking. An author, a cook and food photographer, her writing shatters convention, both culinary and artistic.
Ms. Abdeni Massaad wrote, photographed and produced the cookbooks “Man’oushé” and “Mouneh” and just completed “Mezzé” drawing on a childhood in Lebanon followed by several years in Florida, the United States where her parents were owners of restaurant “Kebabs and Things.” Inspired also by the teachings she acquired from cooking experiences in restaurants in Lebanon and an involvement and unbound curiosity with grass-roots food groups such as the slow food movement that she recently presides. With “Mezzé,” she embarks on dizzying and, at times, stultifying cooking experiments.
Her breakthrough cookbook, “Mouneh,” a structurally inventive and loosely autobiographical cooking tale whereby she travelled exhaustively to the four corners of Lebanon propelled her to fame. “Mezzé” her latest book is a daring account and a frank exploration of a staple of Lebanese cooking who unencumbered, guide cooks through each recipe with precision.
“Mezzé” has already been fully vetted by internationally recognized chefs Alice Waters, Greg Malouf, Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Nouhad Damous hence securing its place in the cooking books’ pantheon. “Mezzé’s” recipes are rich, inventive, easy to prepare and plain delicious. They consist of a plethora of small plates to nibble from. What strikes mostly is Abdeni Massaad’s friendly and intimate writing tone inviting the reader to join on a culinary trip, peppered with humorous advices and adventure sharing at the city of Tyre’s best Botargo or at Beirut’s Armenian friends the unique Eggplant with Yoghurt recipes.
Indeed, in today’s world of constant stimulation and interconnectivity, Abdeni Massaad succeeds in creating without any technologies but with straightforward recipes accompanied by very colorful and whimsical illustrations the stimulation factor of a fresh looking book design. Pascale Hares returns to an old-fashioned method of illustrating cookbooks versus the regular use of photography. But “Mezzé’s” illustrations are anything but contemporary and cutting edge. Well crafted in the execution, boisterous, accentuated in black outlines where bright colors fields burst into life and interconnectivity with the text. One would have wished for more restrained headlines, a bit more classical
The “Mouneh” book is a handbook for a whole Lebanese generation. “Mezzé” may be bound to become the one for international food aficionados. Hurry to acquire this cookbook and join Abdeni Massaad in her culinary adventures to discover the incomparable Lebanese cooking and sahteen,(double health in Arabic).