Poopa Dweck is the preeminent authority on the food, ways, and customs of the Jews of Aleppo, the world’s largest and most flourishing community of Sephardic Jews. Aromas of Aleppo:The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews (Ecco) is Dweck’s fourth work on the subject and the most comprehensive source for the cuisine and customs of Aleppian Jews to date and was winner of the National Jewish Book Award. She speaks to Jewish organizations, culinary retailers and organizations, across the world, most recently in China, Israel, and Turkey.
Dweck comes from a long line of Syrian cooks, whose migrations have spanned the globe from the northeastern hill town of Aleppo in Ottoman Syria to Italy to the United States and South America. Her outlook is shaped by her steadfast devotion to the traditions of Aleppian Jewry and a worldly appreciation of all walks of life. Constantly developing exciting and new relationships with the openness inherited from her parents, Dweck’s mission is to share her knowledge of Syrian-Jewish cuisine to the community beyond.
Aromas of Aleppo allows the sophisticated cook to finally discover the best of Dweck’s work – and the best of a special community. The cuisine of Aleppian Jewry gracefully combines Mediterranean and Levantine influences, ranging from rudimentary workman’s meals fit for the midday Aleppo market siesta to the regal opulence of a 12-course Passover Seder. Aleppian style of cooking represents a layer of Middle Eastern culture that is unknown to most, but has always been there on the festive tables of a quiet, thriving, and a culturally-supportive community.
As executive editor of Deal Delights and Deal Delights II, Dweck compiled, with the assistance of dozens of contributors, hundreds of classic Syrian recipes into two community sourcebooks that remain required references for any novice Syrian cook.Aromas of Aleppo follows the Deal Delights work by striving to document and preserve the enduring history, cuisine, and customs of the Aleppian Jewish community for future generations and will be translated into Hebrew.
It all started in mid-1970’s, when the American-born generation of the Aleppian-Jewish community began to displace the methodical, slow food approach of their forebears with the banal ding-and-it’s-done ethic of American cookery. Most Syrian recipes were not written down; they existed only in the minds of older cooks. Dweck heard the shrill of this silent alarm and acted to prevent the loss of her community’s centuries-old legacy. Cognizant of the risk of constantly relying upon the older generation for culinary counsel, she dedicated herself to documenting her community’s valuable cuisine.
Dweck is the founder of the Jesse Dweck City Learning Center, a community outreach organization for young men from the Aleppian Jewish community working and living in Manhattan. It is named in honor of her son Jesse A.H. Dweck, who died tragically at the age of 18. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.
Praise for Poopa Dweck and Aromas of Aleppo
“The vibrant pages of Aromas of Aleppo will make your mouth water – history, family, and tradition – all of these combine to create a cookbook that gives the reader a taste of the culture, and of course the cuisine, of Aleppo – extremely comprehensive – easy to use and a pleasure to read. It is a valuable reference for the Syrian kitchen and a rich guidebook to Aleppo’s unique heritage for the non-Syrian, both in and outside of the kitchen.”
—Jewish Book World
“I wanted to be in two places at the same time as I read Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck. The intriguing recipes inspired me to head to my kitchen, but the story the author tells kept me in my chair, riveted – A community that no longer exists comes alive in this book, aided by many old photographs, but mainly through the recounting of its culinary traditions – Menus with lists of symbolic foods are given - All carry with them the hope for bounty and blessings in the coming year.”
—New York Times
“The story and culture of her people comes alive in ‘Aromas,’ detailed in the beautiful photos of her extended family and ancestors, supplemented by black-and-white photos from Sephardic community archives. Recipes developed by Dweck and other Syrian cooks are interwoven with historical snippets explaining the traditions and customs of the Aleppian Jews – the book is as enticing to read through as to cook from. It’s all too easy to get lost in a culture about which little else is written.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“[Poopa Dweck] has made it her task to preserve their venerable cuisine in its fullness. Her book is a huge tome of 388 pages and is lavishly produced; most of the 180 dishes are illustrated with color photos, interspersed with soulful black-and-white family pictures dating back to the 1890s…”
—Los Angeles Times
“Poopa Dweck, a New Jersey community leader, wife and mother of five, explores both her own family’s traditions and those of the wider Jewish community in her exquisite ‘Aromas of Aleppo.’ The large-format book could be relegated to the coffee table but won’t be: In its 388 pages are dozens of archival photos (many from Dweck’s family collections), tons of commentary and, of course, the recipes.”
“Food books this large and beautiful usually have the emotional content of cotton candy. But Aromas of Aleppo is tinged with the bittersweet memories of a community that lovingly upholds table traditions of the city that evicted all its members - the recipes of Jewish Aleppo, refined but not daunting to undertake, are special. But it’s the fervent embrace of tradition by an evicted community that makes this book glow.”
—New York Sun
“For thousands of Jewish families in New Jersey, tonight’s Rosh Hashanah celebration of the new year – with its feast of dishes that symbolizes success and prosperity – can also be considered a celebration of survival – the survival of a unique culture that no longer has a homeland – Poopa Dweck of Deal saw the need to preserve her culture’s heritage and began compiling recipes - And she turned a 30-year-old collection of community cookbooks into a new 388-page Sephardic kosher tome of Aleppian food and history…”
—The Record (New Jersey)
“The Jews of Aleppo were famed for their refined and tasty cuisine, which was regarded as ‘the pearl of the Arab kitchen.’ It is great to see that it lives on in New York and that Poopa Dweck has put together such a wonderful collection of delicious recipes.”
—Claudia Roden, author of The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food