This was one of those cases where my job was harder than usual, and the effort to be fair more taxing than usual.  When I first got this book, I was terribly excited–I’ve found the gloriously diverse palate of the Middle East more and more inspiring over the years.  And what a terrific, overdue idea! to have an exclusively vegetarian cookbook.  The recipes looked new and interesting, the photography lovely, the author knowledgeable.

In my eagerness to get cracking, I tried a couple of recipes right away.  But I found the instructions a little on the vague side.  I pressed ahead with my best guesses, the way we do as cooks, draining the soggy bulgur, guessing what “a little” oil might mean.  And the results were still…meh.  I thought, Well, it could be me, or it could be the recipes.  Either way, I decided not to put it forward for review.

A week later, my editor asked me if I’d seen it, and would I review it?  I shared my misgivings with her, but she was as taken with the book as I had been at first, and we decided to go ahead with it.  As it turned out, the rest of the recipes were much like the first–wonderful ideas, poor execution.

I wish I’d been able to give this book a happier reception.  The publisher did a beautiful job with it, and I know there’s delicious food inside those recipes somewhere.  But I am afraid it will take a more meticulous hand to bring it out.

Click here to read today’s review of The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian.