Egyptian Book Reviews - Memories of a Lost Egypt

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Book Review by

Mary Kay Radnich

Memories of a Lost Egypt: A Memoir with Recipes

Buy This Book

Colette Rossant

Clarkson Potter/Publishers

New York 4/99

This charming small volume tells the story of the childhood and young adulthood of Colette Rossant, growing up in her Egyptian grandparents house in the Garden City area of pre-World War II Cairo. Abandoned by her widowed mother, Ms. Rossant showed the creativity and ingenuity of a child in making the best of her situation, drawing from it the warmth and creativity that led her to blossom into a very prolific writer and skilled cook.

She begins her story with the reestablishment of her relationship with her dying mother, however quickly flashes back to her arrival in Cairo and gives a very lively account of life in the household. She learns that the soul of the house is the kitchen and she develops a lasting friendship with Ahmet, the cook, who introduces her to the nurturing pleasures of Egyptian cooking. Throughout the book, interspersed, are recipes of both common and exotic delicacies as well as family photos, which add to the charm and atmosphere of the book.

Ms. Rossant is a very gifted storyteller, painting for her readers a colorful and romantic of Cairo in the years before the war, describing not only daily life as seen through the eyes of a young girl but also the special occasions of life: weddings and Grandmamans always important poker day for her friends. She also recounts with love her struggle for a relationship with her mother and, at the end, of her return to Cairo with her children.

The recipes contained within cover a variety of Egyptian foods, from hummus, semit and tamiyya to the more exotic holiday foods, including Christmas Four-Meat Pate and Grilled Chicken with Roasted Bananas. Love Egypt? Love food? Love to read about a slower paced, more romantic culture? Then I highly recommend this book as one for your summer reading shelf!

Ed. Note: A recipe from Memories of a Lost Egypt will be featured in the Cooking with Tour Egypt column this month.

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June 1st, 2000