Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo
An American journalist in Iraq discovers just what a good meal can mean during uncertain times.
Day of Honey:
A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo
$26.00 List Price
"One of the secrets of life during wartime," writes Annia Ciezadlo in Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War (Free Press, $26), her chronicle of eating in Baghdad in the months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in Beirut during the 2006 war with Israel, "is that your senses become unnaturally sharp, more attuned to pleasure in all its forms. Colors are brighter, more saturated. Smells are stronger. Sounds make you jump. Music makes you cry for no reason. And food? You will never forget how it tastes." In the days after a nasty outbreak of sectarian violence, she asks a Lebanese cheesemonger, "Why? Why, in the middle of a firefight, do people decide that they must have cheese?" to which he replies, "Because they think they will never be able to taste it again."
Of course the truth, like all so-called truth during wartime, is more complicated than that. But the cheesemonger's answer serves as a neat summary of what lies at the heart of Ciezadlo's story. Equal parts history of the Middle East, tale of cross-cultural marriage, and riveting account of life as a civilian reporter in two war zones—she was a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the New Republic—Day of Honey is first and foremost a paean to the powers of food, recipes included.
Her odyssey begins in New York, when Mohamad, her new boyfriend and fellow journalist, takes her to his favorite restaurant in Queens, the Afghan Kebab House. Before long, September 11 descends and he's on his way to Pakistan, from where, instead of discussing the intricacies of chicken kebab in yogurt sauce, he says