Damascus, the perfumed city: Brigid Keenan takes us on a grand tour. And we go in search of Istanbul’s heathlands – a precious ecosystem under threat – gossip about Vita and Harold in Istanbul; watch the stunning Dancers of the Steppes attempt Ararat; and watch Moda in the Great South Wind before cooking up a storm with spinach and purslane
These are the last great heathlands of Eastern Europe, one of the world’s rarest natural habitats. Unless they receive a last-minute reprieve, they will be bulldozed out of existence. Andrew Finkel reports on the dilemma facing the planners in Istanbul. Botanical notes by Andrew Byfield
Levnî and the Surnâme, by Esin Atıl, gives a spirited and vivid pictorial narration, from the brush of arguably the greatest of all Ottoman miniaturists, of the last great Ottoman festival. This was held in Istanbul in 1720, with all the splendour and magnificence for which the empire was famed. Christine Thomson reviews the Koçbank publication.
It was not until the sixteenth century when Catherine de’ Medici introduced spinach to France on her arrival from Florence as the bride of Henri II, that it was recognised as a food in its own right. Any dish with spinach is still ‘a la florentine’.
More cookery features
Said to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Damascus shows the traces of countless rulers, from the Arameans to the French. But it is the Ottomans whose influence is most clearly visible in the old city today. By Brigid Keenan. Photographs by Tim Beddow
Cornucopia was instrumental in reissuing a forgotten novel by Harold Nicolson, set in Istanbul. First published in 1921, Sweet Waters draws heavily on Nicolson’s experience as a diplomat in the city in the 1910s. It is also a highly autobiographical reworking of his courtship of Vita Sackville-West, as a new foreword by their son, Nigel Nicolson, reveals. By Aslı Aydıntaşbaş
It was only to stop a property dealer painting the selamlık blue that the Germen family acquired a Bosphorus yalı to look after. This pavilion, on a glorious stretch of the Anatolian shore, enjoys southerly views all the way to the Topkpapı and sunsets to die for. Patrica Daunt meets the latest owners of this former royal residence
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