Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War Hardcover – Feb 1 2011
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“Her book is among the least political, and most intimate and valuable, to have come out of the Iraq war… There are many good reasons to read Day of Honey. It’s a carefully researched tour through the history of Middle Eastern food. It’s filled with adrenalized scenes from war zones, scenes of narrow escapes and clandestine phone calls and frightening cultural misunderstandings. Ms. Ciezadlo is completely hilarious on the topic of trying to please her demanding new Lebanese in-laws. These things wouldn’t matter much, though, if her sentences didn’t make such a sensual, smart, wired-up sound on the page.... Ms. Ciezadlo is the kind of thinker who listens as well as she writes. Her quotations from other people are often beautiful, or very funny…. readers will feel lucky to find her.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Her epicurial tour cracks open a different Iraq. She looks into its dusty cookbooks, explores its coffeehouses and savors the foods of its many regions and religious sects. Her book is full of more insight and joy than anything else I have read on Iraq.... Her writing is at times so moving that you want to cry for countries destroyed, but she writes with such wisdom that you don't fret over the future of these 4,000-year-old civilizations."—The Washington Post Book World
“Her writing about food is both evocative and loving; this is a woman who clearly enjoys a meal. . . . A glass of Iraqi tea, under Ciezadlo’s gaze, is a thing of beauty.”—The Associated Press
“In her extraordinary debut, Annia Ciezadlo turns food into a language, a set of signs and connections, that helps tie together a complex moving memoir of the Middle East. She interweaves her private story with portraits of memorable individuals she comes to know along the way, and with the shattering public events in Baghdad and Beirut. She does so with grace and skill, without falling into sentimentality or simple generalizations.” —The Globe and Mail
“Ciezadlo is a splendid narrator, warm and funny and more interested in others than herself... Cooking and eating are everyday comforts, and with any luck, a source of fellowship; Day of Honey is a beautiful reminder that this doesn't change even in the midst of war."—Slate
“Ciezadlo's memoir is, fortunately, fascinating. And touching. Plus alternately depressing (because of the seemingly endless, senseless sectarian deaths in Iraq and Lebanon) and laugh-out-loud funny (because of the self-deprecation, not to mention the vivid portraits of unique characters such as her mother-in-law).... It would be an easy path, and maybe a wise one, to fill out the remainder of this review with direct quotations from the memoir. Ciezadlo’s writing is that good.... Ciezadlo's voice is marvelous."—The Christian Science Monitor
“Her fast-paced, graceful writing weaves politics into discussions of literature and cuisine to bring insight into the long history of cultural mix and transition in the Middle East, reminding us that even as war persists, our humanity helps to preserve our civilization, and our food binds our communities and our families.... A highly recommended personal perspective on political and cultural aspects of the war-riven Middle East..." —Library Journal
“Ciezadlo’s lovely, natural language succeeds where news reports often fail: She leads us to care.”—The Oregonian
“A vividly written memoir of her adventures in travel and taste in the Middle East. The capstone to all her thoughtful ruminations is a mouthwatering final chapter collecting many of the dishes she describes earlier in the book. She does this all in writing that is forthright and evocative, and she reminds us that the best memoirs are kaleidoscopes that blend an author’s life and larger truths to make a sparkling whole.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Ciezadlo paints memorable portraits of shopkeepers, journalists, poets, women's rights activists, restaurant owners, and the ways they cope... When Ciezadlo describes meals, I am both hungry and drunk on her words... The best books transport us to worlds outside our experience, making them both real and comprehensible. Unequivocally, this is one of those books.” —The Austin Chronicle
“Annia Ciezadlo’s Day of Honey is a gorgeous, mouthwateringly written book that convincingly demonstrates why, even with bombs going off all over the place, you gotta eat.”
—Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City
“A riveting, insightful and moving story of a spirited people in wartime horror told with affection and humour. Food plays a part in the telling—unraveling layers of culture, history and civilization, revealing codes of behaviour and feelings of identity and making the book a banquet to be savored."
—Claudia Roden, author of The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
“A warm, hilarious, terrifying, thrilling, insanely smart debut book that gets deep inside of you and lets you see the Middle East—and the world—through profoundly humanitarian eyes. And if that weren’t enough, there’s also a phenomenal chapter’s worth of recipes. Buy this important book. Now.”
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief, Saveur
"Annia Ciezadlo combines 'mouthwatering' and the Middle East in this beautifully crafted memoir. She adds a new perspective to the region and leavens the stories of lives caught up in the tragedies of war, including her own, with recipes for understanding. She is a gifted writer and a perceptive analyst. Ciezadlo’s portraits are unforgettable."
—Deborah Amos, author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East and correspondent for National Public Radio
“It’s been a long time since I have enjoyed any nonfiction as much as I did Annia Ciezadlo’s Day of Honey… Ciezadlo’s determination to know intimately the cuisine of wherever she’s staying lends the book both its organization and richness… Ciezadlo is a splendid narrator, warm and funny… Cooking and eating are everyday comforts, and with any luck, a source of fellowship; Day of Honey was a beautiful reminder that this doesn’t change even in the midst of war.”
“Her book is full of more insight and joy than anything else I have read on Iraq. Some tidbits are fascinating… Ciezadlo is a wonderful traveling companion. Her observations are delightful — witty, intelligent and nonjudgmental. Skirting the politics, hotel food and headline-grabbing violence, she spills the secrets of this region so rich in history as if they were spices from a burlap sack. Her writing is at times so moving that you want to cry for countries destroyed, but she writes with such wisdom that you don’t fret over the future of these 4,000-year-old civilizations. It’s a shame that the hundreds of journalists, aid workers and pundits who dominate the discussion of Iraq and Lebanon rarely stop to delight in the countries’ beauty.”
—The Washington Post
About the Author
Annia Ciezadlo received her M.A. in journalism from New York University in 2000. In late 2003, she left New York for Baghdad, where she worked for The Christian Science Monitor. She has also written about culture, politics, and the Middle East for The New Republic, The Nation, The Washington Post, the National Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Observer, and Lebanon's Daily Star. Annia lives somewhere between New York and Beirut, with her husband, the journalist Mohamad Bazzi.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ciezaldo writes so vividly that I couldn't stop dreaming of the food she described. I swear I could taste it. My mouth literally watered. She writes from the heart and she touched mine.
In 2003, Annia, who grew up in the Midwest, and her Lebanese husband, who grew up in New York, move to Beirut to Baghdad and back to Beirut to cover the war as reporters. She covers the events, people, culture and food there with a deep humanity that impressed me. For her it is personal. She makes it personal for the reader.
I was constantly amazed at how apolitical this book is. In spite of all the political factions vying for control in the Middle East, Annia removes herself from the governments, sects and groups and focuses on the people. During war, the people suffer. The people love. The people hate. The people eat.
Don't miss this beautiful, rich, nearly edible book. I devoured it. It will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the Middle East.
The other remarkable thing about this book is Ciezaldo as a narrator -- this is not an exasperated expert writing from on high, wondering why Americans remain so ignorant about the wars we're fighting. She's one of us. Another American who grew up understanding war in the Middle East as a series of short scary stories on the evening news. But she grew up and went to Baghdad and Beirut as a journalist (and on her honeymoon!) and she "ate the meal," as her journalism prof admonished his students to do, to get a full story. This is the fullest of stories.
Ciezaldo winks at the book Eat, Pray, Love with a chapter titled Eat, Pray, War. If you kinda sorta liked Eat, Pray, Love -- but found yourself annoyed by an author who could afford to drop everything and go to Tuscany -- do yourself a favor and buy Day of Honey. It's a much deeper, broader, more courageous book. And such delicious recipes.
The book is a fantastic read, gripping you with Ciezadlo's humor, wit and stark powers of observation. Readers will find themselves falling in love with the characters and places Ciezadlo paints with vivid detail and life, and will find themselves missing those characters and places when the book is finished.
But readers should fret not about filling the void they might feel when the story is over; Ciezadlo generously finds a way for the story to continue on our taste buds and in our own stomachs by including recipes of the food so lovingly celebrated within the book's pages.
Reading Ciezadlo's story will be one of the finest literature and culinary experiences you will have.
But it's Ciezadlo's voice and writing skill that makes this a book you need to read. Despite the bubble-gummy cover, the contents are all meat. Her writing is wicked smart but not preachy, impassioned but not self-righteous. She renders her subjects with grace, even making you love -- as she seems to -- her cantankerous mother-in-law. And she seems to have complete command of the national and culinary histories of Lebanon and Iraq, which she folds into the narrative with a subtle touch.
"Day of Honey" strikes all the right balances -- in its writing style, its voice, its reporting, and its rendering of its subjects. It's tender and tough, intelligent and gritty.
Perhaps best of all is Ciezadlo's ability to write about love, women and domestic life without ever making you feel like you're reading chick lit. Instead you will want to eat, cook, fall in love and strike out into the world.
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