The message of the cookbook is thus clear, immediate and pragmatic, yet it’s also subtle, even lyrical. With an epigraph from Kahlil Gibran’s “To Young Americans of Syrian Origin,” a simple table of contents (appetizers, soups, etc.), beautiful pictures from Ricarius Photography — and straightforward, simply written recipes that work — “The Immigrant Cookbook” would be a welcome addition to any cook’s library. What sets it on the top shelf, so to speak, is the multiplicity of voices, techniques and flavors and also the context — which is something that often gets lost in the tumult of noisy kitchens or a noisy political arena.
“Almost all of the foods we think of as American specialties can be traced to immigrants who brought or adapted them: pizza, bagels, pretzels, apple pie, waffles, hot dogs, tacos, hamburgers and the ice cream cone all originate from immigrants — from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia or the Middle East,” Moushabeck writes from her Brooklyn home in her introduction.
What makes American cuisine great is those who brought their food — ingredient list and all — to this country, then and now and into the long table of the future.