Turkish Delights by John Gregory-Smith
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 3 stars
Turkish cuisine is growing in popularity around Australia, and summer is the perfect season to try your hand at making some of those spectacularly tasty dishes at home.
John Gregory-Smith is a young chef and food writer with a love of Turkish cuisine. He’s the author of three books, and the founder of online magazine Eat Travel Live. When he’s not teaching readers about the wonders of Turkish cuisine, he’s helping them grasp the intricacies of working with spices.
Turkish Delights is Gregory-Smith’s first published collection of Turkish recipes, and there’s a stunning range of traditional fare and modern interpretations to keep kitchen warriors inspired.
Turkish Delights is a less intensive book than Essential Turkish Cuisine (https://hushhushbiz.com/essential-turkish-cuisine-by-engin-akin-book-review/), so it’s great for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the overabundance of knowledge in the latter. But Turkish Delights loses some of that warmth that comes from feeling like a beloved elder is teaching you their history, and their hard-learned recipes.
Does it make it a lesser book? No. If this is the standard Gregory-Smith is operating at now, I’ve no doubt that we’re going to be seeing a lot from him over the decades of his career.
When learning about foods from different cultures, I tend to err on the side of photographs, especially when working with unfamiliar ingredients or processes. Unlike most cookbooks, Gregory-Smith has opted to move away from strictly food photography, and included a vast array of photos taken in Turkey, showcasing the beautiful region for those of us who’ve yet to travel there. Turkish Delights contains a lot of beautiful imagery, though not all of it seems truly relevant to the subject at hand. Sometimes, they’re stunning and complex snapshots of the region, but other times it’s a little hard to know why they’re there, especially with no real context as to their inclusion.
If you need pictures to see how a dish is meant to look, this is probably going to be irritating, if not off-putting for you. If you enjoy regional photography, or find yourself wanting to visit the location of a certain photo, then the lack of information included might also be frustrating. But for those who know Turkey well, and are familiar with the landmarks, it’s likely going to be a beautiful excuse to reminisce about a stunning landscape, and wonderful people.
Overall, this is the sort of book that you can’t help but settle in and savour, and the recipes sound delectable enough to inspire a change-up to the next family get-together’s menu. If you’re looking for a go-to guide on the basics of Turkish cookery, then it’s certainly a beautiful starting point to your cooking journey.
Turkish Delights is published by Simon and Schuster Australia, and is available through the publisher’s website, and at bookstores around the country.