Sababa Cookbook. Adeena Sussman. My Review
Order a copy of Sababa for yourself and a friend, then let’s chat about what we’ll be making!
“Creativity is intelligence having fun”, said Einstein. Adeena Sussman is an apt personification of this whimsical line. Her ravishingly beautiful cookbook arrived on a day – OK, make that a week, a month, a year – I was getting somewhat impatient about the state of our cooking culture. Our cooking has apparently been hijacked by photography: Instagram pictures bending backwards to create fantasy and magic – worse, sorcery – about the way food should “look”. And when we readers are being assured that those food scaffoldings are a snap to make, forgive us if it makes us burst out laughing. Is it any wonder so many people are terrified of cooking, and view themselves as totally inept in the kitchen?
Then comes the dizzying list of opulent restaurants opening fast and furious all over the city and beyond, where the price tag is closer to a tax on luxury goods or a trip abroad than to the price of, you know, dinner. Restaurants vying for the highest price, for the grungiest most expensive location (yup: shabby chic has moved up to grungy chic. Have you noticed that dining on grungy Kingston Avenue is currently more expensive than in swanky Rockefeller Center?), for the most inventive esoteric ways to cook a lousy steak: aging, sous vide, smoking, searing, reverse searing, dry rubs, wet rubs, slow cooking, quick cooking, instant pot. Ribbono Shel Olam! (aka Gd Almighty!). Thank you for indulging me. Rant over.
So, calling on my inner food hound, I leafed excitedly and ecstatically through Sababa Cookbook and … oh my Gd…. oh bliss… no steak… no roast… no hipster cuts… none of the standard workhorses we so often think a cookbook won’t rate without.
Sababa Cookbook: No Drama and No Fuss
Its main asset is naturally built in: Its author. Adeena is a force, of which her book is a pure emanation. zero gimmicks, hacks or tricks. It fully expresses her no nonsense personality, her integrity, her joie de vivre, all of which converge and spill out generously and exuberantly on her wonderful table. A riotous celebration of flavors, colors and textures. In her intelligent hands, good food, good mood and good times are inextricably linked. Her belief in the implicit goodness of the most primordial ingredients is at the core of her philosophy, and informs each and every dish. Woman after my own heart, she’s having none of that tiresome food-fad-and-trend-fueled talk of any diet or dish du jour. A breath of fresh air after all the alarmist literature that forbids this food or other one day only to ram it down our throats the next. No wonder The Wall Street Journal calls her food the undiet diet.
Sababa Cookbook treats you to a joy ride at the market (lucky her, living in the shadow of Shuk Hacarmel) Adeena running with her finds to her kitchen and getting to work. It is this simple and short chain of event that brings you Sababa Cookbook. There is absolutely nothing in the book you cannot afford, or that requires daunting honed skills and techniques. No curve balls anywhere.
And the pictures in Sababa Cookbook!
This glorious display of heirloom tomatoes alone could tell the whole story, and would be perfectly at home in an art gallery, unless of course we eat them first!
Freekeh and Roasted Grape Salad
Stovetop Cooking! Bring it on down
All aboard in one pot on the stovetop. This is the cooking we grew up with. All the deliciousness is in the pot, and that’s dinner. No side dishes anywhere in sight. Everything occupies the front and center. We love all our babies the same way! Everything that makes us pine for Israeli Food is right here: make it in no time in the comfort of your own home!
Sababa Cookbook Inspired Dinner
Ok, y’all, nuff said. Tomorrow my two besties are coming for dinner and a long overdue shmooze. The three of us, Moroccan expats all, enjoy nothing more than a home-cooked meal, and can hopefully be excused for thinking that we eat nowhere better than at home, cooking from the heart, with the most plebeian ingredients doing their magic and ending up with glorious dishes.
I am centering my whole first course on Adeena-inspired mezze: salatim on a bed of fava bean puree (ful: our beloved Moroccan Bessara).
Dear Adeena, take your beautiful Sababa Cookbook book places, just as you and Chrissy Teigen did before (Yes! We are Always Hungry for More!) and teach everyone the power of simplicity and going back to our roots! All fads will come and go, but this will remain forever! Sababa and Mabrook!