The story revolves all over Daphne, a younger American lady who has come to the city of her parents’ birth to discover her heritage. There, she meets two adult men who vie for her affections: Fanis, a feisty 76-year-outdated, has a extensive background of womanizing, to test to exorcise a darkish chapter from his earlier. Kosmas, an award-profitable pastry chef who’s nevertheless residing with his mother at 41, attempts to monitor down a misplaced Ottoman recipe to acquire Daphne’s coronary heart. A colorful team of pals, opinionated aunties and neighborhood regulars, pretty much all from Istanbul’s numerous non-Muslim communities, spherical out the endearing cast of characters.
As various courtships play out concurrently, the city comes vibrantly alive as a result of the author’s evocative descriptions that conjure all the senses. The basic Istanbul seagulls’ squawks and muezzins’ phone calls to prayer are existing, but so much too is “the damp, soot-stained pavement outdoors the greengrocer’s store . . . littered with scallions and lettuce.” The air in the Panagia church has “a stale wood and mould base, best notes of apple and rosewater, and a spicy coronary heart of myrrh and cinnamon.” Numerous food items descriptions pique the taste buds, this kind of as a pastry whose “cardamom, cinnamon, and rose flavors transported Daphne to the Egyptian Bazaar.”
Anastasiadou, who is Rum and chose to generate in English to share that knowledge with the broader planet, sprinkles her characters’ dialogues with salty Greek and Turkish expressions. She writes with the deep cultural comprehending of an insider, incorporating depictions of Orthodox religious rites and aspects about marriage traditions. Nevertheless her narrator also possesses an outsider’s keen eye for observation, wryly commenting on the overinvolvement of Greek moms in their sons’ lives or the abnormal jewelry worn by Istanbul ladies.
As Daphne becomes section of this globe, she is hiding a key about her family members that could demonstrate unsettling to her new circle. They are acutely anxious about the survival of the Rum local community, which at the time made up about a quarter of Istanbul’s population but has been lowered to less than 2,000 folks these days soon after multiple waves of emigration in the 20th century sparked by animosity and discrimination. “It’s the useless. They’ve come to be way too lots of,” laments Daphne’s aunt. “And we really do not have any children to switch them.”
The elders are significantly haunted by the events of September 1955, when Turks in Istanbul — stirred up by nationalist sentiment in the push about the potential of Cyprus — carried out an anti-Greek pogrom as the law enforcement, on official orders, turned a blind eye. 1000’s of Rum family members fled Turkey in the aftermath, and the Rum populace that remained — and the town alone — had been never the identical once again. By means of recollections and flashbacks that depart from the novel’s primary time body of 2011 to 2012, Fanis and other characters try to confront this traumatic record.
In weaving with each other a pleasant present-day passionate drama with a more profound narrative about reckoning with and producing peace with the earlier, “A Recipe for Daphne” proves deeply satisfying.
Vanessa H. Larson is a multiplatform editor at The Washington Write-up. She writes about tradition, artwork and movie.