readers’ comments

these amazing “love notes” to me are snippets of lives that are lovely to read! i am so grateful for the lovelies who take time to write and share their family stories and why they love Alice’s Kitchen! Shukran and sahtein!

send your comments to me here!

•”Hi Linda. . . I have a copy of your book and I refer to it every time I’m cooking, the recipes are simply delicious. Thank you for your work on this excellent book. I’m gifting the book I just ordered to my sister in law. . . I appreciate you signing it for her.”
—Thanks, Rafif, California

• “I have never wept over a cookbook before, but I found myself tearing up reading Alice’s Kitchen. I was holding love and family in my hands . . . ‘Shukrun ktir’ for a lovely, lovely book.”
—Barbara Bedway, Hudson, New York

• “Your stories about Douma and Lebanon are so interesting to me and I never tire of hearing them.”
—Philip Simon, Los Angeles

• “Your artwork and recipes are superb efforts as well as the memories of your family life and the gems of cooking . . . I have tried two of the recipes already and they turned out delicious.”
—Frank Sumarah, Halifax, Canada

• “Alice’s Kitchen is a real treasure! . . . I absolutely love it and will cherish it forever. Linda, thank you for doing this for all of us out here—your mother and your grandmother: the best cooks ever!!”
—Barbara Connor, Ventura, California 

• “The cookbook is an absolute gem—I love the new edition. You’re wonderful to endow us with such lush history and tradition.”
—Joan Shipley, Portland, Oregon

• “It’s a rainy day here and your almond crescent moons are in the oven baking. Your family reaffirmed what we’ve always known, but forget. Time for family, food prepared with love, these things are our treasures.”
—Donna Stewman, Ben Lomond, California

• “I actually have made 3 recipes from your book: Garlic Sauce, Hummus and bbq chicken. I catered a friends film this last weekend and wanted to try them out. They were a big hit!”
—Michelle M., Portland, Oregon

• “I’ve been eating zucchini patties for lunch this week. Mmmmmm, so tasty!  Good cold and plain, also good warmed up and inside pocket bread. I used the Vegetable Patties recipe from Alice’s Kitchen Lebanese cookbook. So thanks Matt, and if you still see Linda, tell her your sister enjoys the recipes.”

•”Linda….your dessert paintings are fabulous….makes me want to bake and eat!”
—Sally W., Portland, Oregon 

•”Dear Ms. Sawaya, I purchased this book some years ago on the recommendation of some cookery friend or other: perhaps Paula Wolfert, perhaps someone on eGullet.  I’ve forgotten now how I heard of the book, but I did, and I bought it. I want you to know that I have found, and continue to find, the book thoroughly delightful!  Whether I’m at home in Minnesota or escaping the winter in our trailer, I keep it with me so I can get my “fix” of Arabic food; most recently I used it to guide me through making my own pita bread (the khoubz marqouq) and to arrive at my best reproduction of toumeyya, the garlic sauce I first learned of at a Lebanese restaurant in Cairo. (In your book it’s listed as toum ou zeit, but it’ll always be toumeyya to me.)

Every recipe I’ve tried—admittedly not an exhaustive exploration—has worked beautifully. What I find especially charming, and what prompts me to write after all this time, is the family history: photos, stories, and your beautiful artwork. In 2011, I presented my extended family with a compilation of stories and photos from the growing-up years of my father, his brother and sister and their friends, and their early family life in the Central California oil fields and mountains.  The photos had been rescued from my grandmother’s house, and I collected stories about them from my father before he died.  It was a Shutterfly book, designed to appeal to our family alone.  I think I now have a small idea of just how much work you had to put into Alice’s Kitchen.  Before, it was a beautiful book to me and a good cookbook; now, it really is an artful love letter to your family. Thank you so much! Yislamou eydayki,”
Nancy S.

•”…received my son’s cookbook today and I wanted to thank you again. I have so enjoyed reading your memories as they parallel mine so much. I, too, learned to play basra and my son knows how to play this card game as well. We are sharks with those Jack’s!! Just such great memories. And your pictures tell such a story. Thank you for personalizing it to him. It is going to be put in one of the 3 cedar chests I have for him. My copy will be remaining with me to enjoy now. Thank you so much again. I have MANY Lebanese cookbooks and I can say yours without question is not just a recipe book. It is one of the most important books I have seen to cover the true culture of our parent immigrants. You rock! Sincerely,”
—Alice S.

•”…was able to just glance at your book which I was enthralled by the pictures especially the ladies boning the lamb! My mother was on a first name basis with the slaughter house. All the ladies would march in with their sharpest knives. Some of the meat and fat would go for “awarma” (for eggs, yummy!!!) then others for kibbe or shish kebab. Your pictures brought it all back. My mom had a grape arbor in our back yard. Yes, I know I will love your book. Thank you for signing it. I will order another soon to put in my son’s cedar chest for hopefully his someday wife. I hope you will sign that too. Thank you Linda for keeping our culture alive. Thank you for going to the trouble of getting the “measurements” for those of us who didn’t. Yes I will keep in touch. Sincerely,”
—Alice S.

•”Greetings from Charlotte, NC.  Still love your book and always go to it first for recipes.  Closer to the real thing!!!
—Alice H.

—Joe Sabah

•”I have been making the dough and freezing it for Christmas, as my 3 kids will be coming.  Since we get together so seldom, they all put in their request for the traditional Arabic foods.  Your book will provide the bases for many of the items.  I have to say….your recipes are the closest I have ever come to what I remember as “our” food.  I inherited the ability from my mom of being able to almost taste a dish by simply reading the ingredients. So as I read your book I was amazed at not only the ingredients but the techniques were right on the button.  I have other middle eastern cookbooks, some just Lebanese, but  I always would modify them, still using them as a guide. You have included all the little details that my mom would use to make a point, emphasizing this or that, as we would work together on some recipe. She used to tell me, if you want the Hummous to be extra smooth, drain the liquid off the beans and warm it before adding it back with all the other ingredients. I can hear her now as I write.”
—Sandra, California

•”I’m thoroughly enjoying your book. It’s amazing to read about the significance of cooking and enjoying meals and your appreciation for all that goes with that part of life. I’m looking forward to making mjaddrah sometime soon. Yours was delicious!”
—Linda M., Oregon

•”I must tell you how much I have enjoyed Alice’s Kitchen. My own family memories and traditions are much the same as your own. Reading the book has brought back so many wonderful times spent cooking Lebanese food with my grandmother.”
—S. A. N.

•”As you mention in your book, my life was much the same. My grandmother was the oldest of 13 children born to F. and C. T. They immigrated from Zahle in the late 1800’s and homesteaded land in Rugby, North Dakota. By 1925 they moved with all the children to Los Angeles. My sisters and I would all gather around the table and watch as Grandma would start to work. It was so much fun to watch and learn and talk and eat as we helped grandma prepare the food. With such a large family, there was always a huge crowd of folks at every meal. My great-grandmother had two kitchens at her house and no matter what time of day or night you might come by, there was a Lebanese feast set before you!

It has been a pleasure to read your book and remember all those wonderful times with my grandmother. She is ever present in my life…every time I juice a lemon or make a salad I feel her presence and approval. Yes, she taught me well! I have seen a lot of Lebanese cookbooks, but yours is the closest to our family’s traditional recipes. I cook like your mother did–without using measurements as that is how I learned. But I have to say that it is very helpful to have those measurements written down!”
—Jan T., California

•”I have viewed and been transported by your Lebanese cooking videos. Thank you so very much! My grandmother was Lebanese (from Zahle) and I spent much time with her learning to cook. In one of your videos you talk about throwing the bread. I watched Sitti throw kebz/hoobiz my whole life. Every Saturday, she would make a batch of bread with 20 lbs. of flour for us and to give it away to people. What I would do for a piece of it now! I can make the thick breads but I live in Colorado now because the altitude makes it hard to throw it thin enough to make kebz. I listen to you and it’s like hearing a cousin, sister or great-aunt. You have the same attitude toward food with which I grew up. It warms my heart and brings back such wonderful memories of my childhod and Sitti! ……Thank you again. You have touched me deeply.”
—Nyla H., Colorado

•”My mother’s family was Khouri, from Zahle, so home cooking was always “mountain style.”  I am so enjoying your book, and I plan to buy copies from my Koory cousins so they can share the memories, too. Thank you for making this book possible.”
—Selma.S., Maryland

•”OMG!! Thank you for responding. I love your cookbook. A friend of ours owned two different restaurants in Houston, Texas and he is from Lebanon. He gave me the cookbook in 1998. I’ve used my son’s food processor, but just didn’t want another small appliance taking up room in my cabinets. And I do have a mini-food processor attachment on my blender, but who can make a small batch? We pig out on this recipe. We make so many other recipes out of your book. I plan on putting others on my blog. Like Julie and Julia….lol! Again, it’s an honor to have you respond to my blog. I am in tears.Thank you.”

•”I received my copy of Alice’s Kitchen today. The way it is written and the personalized notes make it feel like a gift. It is such a pleasure to read!

Thank you so much for all of the work you put into this book. Thank you for the special touches that make it feel like a gift. Thank you for writing about cooking in a way that makes it feel like something wonderful instead of like a chore or a complicated burden.
Thank you for writing about food in a way that makes it feel like something valuable and important instead of something to worry about or fear.

I have already found some wonderful new things to try with my lentils and rice. The chickpeas I had soaked for tonight’s dinner will be extra special now. Thank you!”

•” Thanks Linda!  I am adding your blog to my list now!  I LOVE your recipes—they are not cryptic like my grandmother’s recipes!!!  And everyone loves my tabouli… thanks to you.  I’ll pass your blog onto them too…
—Georgette N.S., Seattle

•”I just wanted to write and tell you how much I liked your cookbook.  I received it as a birthday gift recently.  I’ve wanted a Lebanese cookbook for a long time because my grandfather’s family was from Lebanon, the town of Damour I think.  I know how to cook a few dishes, but I’m excited about having all of your recipes now. I also enjoyed reading all of the stories and looking at the pictures! Thanks again for a great cookbook!”
— Gretchen S.

•”Hi Linda, I don’t think we’ve ever met, but your cookbook is my go to place for tasty recipes when I don’t know what to make for dinner. I was introduced to your book by my wife, MaryAlecia, and I’ve been enjoying making fabulous meals from it ever since!”
—Evan H., Santa Cruz, California