“What we know in America of Arabian food and life is colored by politics, by the local falafel truck, and maybe by ignorance. But with her book on the meals and traditions of Arabian entertaining, Amy Riolo seeks to illuminate a culture and move cooks beyond pita chips and hummus. Riolo has not only gathered recipes, but put them in the context of Arabian life…Riolo has immersed herself in Arab culture, and her recipes, gathered from home cooks and local restaurants, have a taste of authenticity. ..With her similar attention to detail, Riolo opens a window onto a culture that is much with us, but very little understood. And what better place for understanding than over a shared meal.”
“Rest assured that someone who owns dozens of cookbooks will not have anything like this paperback on their shelves. Food historian Riolo, who maintains homes in Germantown and north of Cairo, divulges recipes she acquired in the guest palaces of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. The food is presented in cultural-culinary menus, with tips and a preparatory timeline for putting on a whole celebratory meal for Eid or Ramadan, or an Arabian dessert party or tea party. That's not to say the recipes can't be appreciated on their own. People who do not drink alcohol are always looking for worthy substitutions, so Riolo's Sunset, Red Sky and Kiwi fruit juice cocktails might work well.”
“Amy is a nationally recognized culinary expert, food writer, and cooking instructor based in the Washington, D.C. area. Amy’s talk was titled ‘Incense and Spice: Entertaining in the Arabian Peninsula.’ She talked about the history of the cuisine of the Arabian Peninsula and how the incense and spice trades impacted…An incense censor and perfumes were passed around the room for all to experience a touch of Arabian hospitality. Amy then spent the next 35 minutes answering many questions from the audience.”
“We had the chicken kebabs from Arabian Delights this weekend. I loved the flavor from the pinch of saffron in the marinade. The aromatic dish was so tasty with such authentic flavor. I also prepared the Sesame Chapati recipe to have with it: delicious.”
Amy Riolo's book, Arabian Delights, is rich with distinctive, yet easy recipes using readily available ingredients, for both family dinners and elegant events. What is most important to me, is that the book conveys a clear historical perspective of the peoples living on the Arabian Peninsula and the development of their cuisines. Arabian Delights gave me an understanding of Muslims and Islam through its culinary traditions and concepts that I've never had before.