Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I've read background briefings in left leaning newspapers, watched the TV stories about conflict and history in the Middle East, and generally tried to keep an empathetic ear open in the hope of gaining some real understanding about the lives of people there. But nothing has done more to give me understanding about the Middle East than reading about food in times of conflict. Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo gets to the heart of life, friends, and family, and reveals the true source of resilience - human engagement over 'something' that must be truly and honestly shared - in this case that 'something' is food.
The power of this wonderful book comes from Annia's ability to engage and empathise with people struggling to survive amid physical danger and grieving societies fractured by suspicion and fear. The intimate details of day to day life that she provides are a testament to her willingness to listen and her hunger for truth. What makes her stories so grounded are the revelations of her senses, switched on to aromas, sights, and experiences. She shows how relations are made honest and more palpable by the sharing of a meal, a discussion about provenance, or the teaching of a technique.
I especially admire Annia's engagement with 'the other'. She is highly reflexive about her role as a foreign journalist, and exercises the humility and sensitivity needed to document culture deeply. By being mindful that 'the other' are hers through friendship and marriage, and sharing their grief, she balances the many pressures she faces and acknowledges that she has greater choices and privileges.
I was deeply, deeply, moved by this book, it's candor and honesty, and by Annia's fearlessness and humility in the face of war.
Day of Honey:A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo is now available on ebook.
You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.