This week, Michael David Lukas, the author of The Ora­cle of Stam­boul blogs for The Post­script on under­stand­ing the Mid­dle East through food, and what to eat while dis­cussing his book. The Post­script series is a spe­cial peek behind the scenes” of a book. It’s a juicy lit­tle extra some­thing to add to a book clubs dis­cus­sion and a read­er’s under­stand­ing of how the book came together. 

A few years ago, I wrote an essay for Slate argu­ing that food — par­tic­u­lar­ly Clau­dia Roden’s cook­book, Arabesque—might be the best way to under­standthe Mid­dle East. I may have over­stat­ed my case (I was work­ing, at the time,as an assis­tant to the Jew­ish cook­book authorJoan Nathan and was very much enam­ored by the pow­er of food). But I still­stand by the basic crux of the essay: food is an excel­lent means ofun­der­stand­ing Mid­dle East­ern his­to­ry, soci­ety, and reli­gion. Food brings peo­ple­to­geth­er and allows us to com­mu­ni­cate beyond lan­guage. As the Turks say, food­feeds the essence of life.” Thus, I have devised the fol­low­ing menu for book­clubs read­ing The Ora­cle of Stam­boul.

Slow Roast­ed Lamb Stew
(About halfway through The Ora­cle of Stam­boul, Eleono­ra and Mon­cef Bey have roast lamb and car­rots for dinner.For those who don’t have time to roast a lamb, this Turk­ish inspired lamb stewis a great substitution.)
Stuffed Grape Leaves
(Who doesn’t like stuffed grape leaves?)

(I made this recipe almost every week when I was liv­ing in Turkey. Make sure tou­se fine bul­gur. Pome­gran­ate syrup is an excel­lent addi­tion if you can findit.)

Fried Arti­chokes, Jew­ish Style
(This recipe isn’t Turk­ish, per se. But it is goes well with the rest of the­menu, and I want­ed to include a recipe from Joan Nathan.)

(It’s prob­a­bly eas­i­er to buy bakla­va at your local Mid­dle East­ern gro­cery. But,for more con­fi­dent chefs, I’ve includ­ed this recipe.)
Fresh Loquats
(I love fresh loquats and they are men­tioned briefly in the novel.)

Turk­ishTea and Turk­ish Coffee
(What Turk­ish meal would be com­plete with­out Turk­ish tea and coffee?)

To read more from Michael, see his blog posts for The Vis­it­ing Scribe

Author of The Last Watch­man of Old Cairo and The Ora­cle of Stam­boul, Michael David Lukas has been a Ful­bright Schol­ar in Turkey, a stu­dent at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Cairo, and a night-shift proof­read­er in Tel Aviv. A recip­i­ent of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture, the Sophie Brody Medal, and a Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts Fel­low­ship, his writ­ing has appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Jour­nal. He teach­es at San Fran­cis­co State Uni­ver­si­ty and lives in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. He’s very close to fin­ish­ing his third nov­el, a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic retelling of the bib­li­cal Book of Esther called Scroll of Stars.