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My wife is looking for a book that she read circa 2004. The novel was a “coming of age story” with a teenage protagonist. Embedded within the prose of the book were Middle Eastern (possibly Lebanese), and American recipes. Among others, she remembers getting recipes for mjeddrah, meatloaf, tabbouli, and baclava. The story had details like what kind of bulgur the character’s father used in the recipes, and she says while the plot wasn’t necessarily food-centric, everything tied back to food.

She believes the story is set in New England and that that the protagonist was transplanted there. She says the time was more or less contemporary.

Added to state: We have searched quite a bit. In particular, we saw this list of 100 books featuring food and did not think it was any of them. Crescent is among them.

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Could it be Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber?

Written in a lush, lyrical style, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment. The reading guide includes a number of recipes to share with friends and family!

Thirty-nine-year-old Sirine, never married, lives with a devoted Iraqi-immigrant uncle and an adoring dog named King Babar. She works as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant, her passions aroused only by the preparation of food—until an unbearably handsome Arabic literature professor starts dropping by for a little home cooking. Falling in love brings Sirene's whole heart to a boil—stirring up memories of her parents and questions about her identity as an Arab American.

The heroine is quite a bit older than a teenager, although it still appears to be something of a coming-of-age story.

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