Jasmine and Fire by Salma Abdelnour


6 Critic Reviews

A food-focused travel memoir through the streets of Beirut.


As Beirut exploded with the bombs and violence of a ruthless civil war in the ’80s, a nine-year-old Salma Abdelnour and her family fled Lebanon to start a new life in the States. Ever since then— even as she built a thriving career as a food and travel writer in New York City—Salma has had a hunch that Beirut was still her home.  She kept dreaming of moving back—and finally decided to do it.

But could she resume her life in Beirut, so many years after her family moved away? Could she, or anyone for that matter, ever really go home again?

Jasmine and Fire is Salma’s poignant and humorous journey of try-ing to resettle in Beirut and fumbling through the new realities of life in one of the world’s most complex, legendary, ever-vibrant, ever- troubled cities. What’s more, in a year of roiling changes around the Middle East and the rise of the Arab Spring, Salma found herself in the midst of the turmoil, experiencing it all up close.

As she comes to grips with all the changes in her life—a love left behind in New York and new relationships blossoming in Beirut—Salma takes comfort in some of Lebanon’s enduring traditions, particularly its extraordinary food culture. Through the sights, sounds, and flavors of a city full of beauty, tragedy, despair, and hope, Salma slowly begins to reconnect with the place she’s longed for her entire life.

About Salma Abdelnour

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Salma Abdelnour is a writer and editor based in New York City. She has been the travel editor of Food & Wine, the food editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, and the restaurant editor of Time Out New York.
Published June 5, 2012 by Broadway Books. 338 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Cooking, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Jasmine and Fire
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1


Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Apr 15 2012

A food-focused travel memoir through the streets of Beirut.

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Star Tribune

Reviewed by EMILY WALZ on Jun 23 2012

Going deeper than the superficial stock stories ...Abdelnour merges evocative descriptions of place and historical context with meditations on the current state of affairs in Lebanon.

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Christian Science Monitor

Reviewed by Lee Cart on Jun 07 2012

...is a pleasing account of life in Beirut, the "Paris of the Mediterranean." Its rich food details will stimulate appetites and the author's quest to find her true home will resonate poignantly for anyone who's ever conducted a similar search.

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Levantine Cultural Center.

Reviewed by Sheana Ochoa on Sep 26 2012

...It makes the reader want to travel through Lebanon. It provides a narrative while offering the reader ideas on where to go and what to eat.

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The Daily Star

Below average
Reviewed by India Stoughton on Jun 23 2012

The book is essentially a diary, and seems to have been written more for Abdelnour than a public readership. It focuses on emotional drama rather than actual events...

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The Sky Like A Scallop Shell

Reviewed by K. HUME on Jul 15 2012

However, I definitely appreciated how Abdelnour delicately touched on Middle East politics, and the history of Lebanon.

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