The stories behind Turkey's huge variety of sweets and puddings are as fascinating as their multiplicity of flavours. This riveting exploration of their history and role in Turkish culture is a voyage of adventure, taking us from the sultan's palace to the homes of ordinary people in Turkey's villages and towns, and beyond to Central Asia, Persia, Arabia, Egypt and the Levant. This is the land of Turkish delight perfumed with rosewater and musk, rose jam, whose praises were sung by Rumi, asure, zerde tinted with saffron, baklava filled with nuts, clotted cream or cheese, milk puddings and helvas, strings of nuts dipped in grape syrup, lollipops in the shape of animals and model gardens built of sugar carried in wedding processions. The first study of Turkish confectionery ever to be published, Sherbet and Spice offers a rare look at the evolution of sweets from the non-European angle, based on many Turkish sources little known outside Turkey that lend a new dimension to the subject.
Mary Isin has lived in Turkey since 1973. She has translated over 150 books on Turkish history, culture and archaeology and in 1983 she started researching Ottoman cuisine and learnt Ottoman Turkish so as to be able to read old cookery books. She is the author of The Turkish Kitchen and a forthcoming encyclopaedic dictionary of Ottoman cuisine.
‘No wonder Turks were delighted…each chapter in this fascinating and scholarly book is devoted to a different confection.'
Florence Fabricant, The New York Times
‘Sherbet and Spice is full of stuff which you do not need to know, though you are pleased when you do. Mary Isin’s book is based on wide and deep reading and its sources include such diverse figures as the eleventh-century Turkish lexicographer Mahmud al-Kashgari, the thirteenth-century mystic and poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad al-Rumi, the sixteenth-century physician and astrologer Nostradamus, the confectioner royal to Otto I of Greece Friedrich Unger and the humorist and Orientalist painter Edward Lear.’
Robert Irwin, Times Literary Supplement
‘...a staggering achievement; a beautifully written, extensively researched book about not just the enormous variety of Turkish puddings and sweets, but also the people and the palaces, the culture and the cuisine of a country where famously, at Constantinople, across the Bosphorus, East meets West. A Turkish delight.’
Lucy Knox, Tribune
'...a superbly written social history, revealing a new dimension to Turkish food and culture.'
'Mary Isin has penned a masterpiece in its field. This is a dizzying book that carries us into daily life, social life and the world of customs and traditions.'
Selim Ileri, Zaman
'The Turks have been famous for their sweet tooth since the days when so many confectioners worked at the Topkapi Palace that they had their own mosque. Sweets permeate Turkish life. Mary Isin has gathered a mountain of information on this rich subject – recipes from the Middle Ages to the present, science, history and folkways. It’s a sweet read.'
Charles Perry, food historian
'A fascinating and informative exploration of the role of sweetness in Turkish culture over the centuries.'
Laura Mason, food historian and author of Sugar-plums and Sherbet
'A sumptuous, if dentally threatening delight of a book.'
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2012
Number of Pages: 336