JASMINE AND FIRE by Salma Abdelnour


A Bittersweet Year in Beirut
Email this review


A food-focused travel memoir through the streets of Beirut.

Although she fled Beirut as a child during the Lebanese civil war, food writer Abdelnour never forgot the city or the sense of longing she felt to return. Disgruntled by her inability to feel at home in America despite 30 years in the country, the author left her friends, career and love interest in New York City to spend a year in her parents' Beirut apartment. She was determined to reconnect with her roots. Relatives and old friends who remained in the country during the war eased the transition from one city to the other. By taking daily walks through her old neighborhood, the author slowly felt the essence of Beirut sinking into her pores. Detailed street descriptions allow readers to meander with the author as she widens her berth, exploring new sections of the war-ravaged city. Abdelnour places special emphasis on the Lebanese food she ate on her walks or was served at one of the many family gatherings she attended. An expanding social circle of new friends and the ability to write about Lebanon helped her accept her background while maintaining her American identity. Despite the political unrest of the region, Abdelnour found peace in her new surroundings. Having embraced her Lebanese culture fully, the author realized she carried the sense of home inside her and ultimately returned to New York to live, at least for most of the year. Though the book includes recipes, a street map would have been a useful addition.

Recommended for readers of food memoirs and those interested in Lebanon.

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-88594-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2012


NonfictionDAY OF HONEY by Annia Ciezadlo
by Annia Ciezadlo
NonfictionWEST OF KABUL, EAST OF NEW YORK by Tamim Ansary
by Tamim Ansary
NonfictionNADIA, CAPTIVE OF HOPE by Fay Afaf Kanafani
by Fay Afaf Kanafani