Review of Spoonful Chronicles by Elen Ghulam: Women's Fiction Following An Iraqi Immigrant

Brooke Banks | 11:30 PM | | | | | | |

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About the Book

Title: Spoonful Chronicles
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Author: Elen Ghulam
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Thaniya Rasid grew up in the Middle East dreaming of becoming a surgeon. Now living an ordinary life as a mother, wife and a hospital lab tech in Vancouver, Canada, she garners unexpected fame as youTube’s Queen of Hummus when her video demonstrating the recipe goes viral. How could blending chickpeas in a food processor generate so much excitement? And how could her life have ended up so far away from all her expectations?
To make sense of the unlikely events that have brought her to this place, Thaniya turns to food, curating memorable eating experiences of her life, searching for clues. Between her childhood aversion to cucumbers, her search for an authentic Iraqi kubeh in the city of Jerusalem, her 10-year tomato wars with her husband Samih, a mood altering encounter with a blood pudding in Edinburgh, and a Kafkaesque nightmare involving a cauliflower, Thaniya unravels repeated patterns occurring in her life. The secrets of love, friendship and destiny hidden in her cauldron of mishmashed cultures begin to reveal themselves.
Between lust and disgust there is a thin line. Spoonful Chronicles is the beguiling story of one woman taking hold of her fate by uncovering the clandestine geography of this divide in her heart.


Find on: Goodreads Amazon





You know what shakshuka is, right? It’s a favorite among students, bachelors and those that don’t know how to cook and those who can’t be bothered to cook. In short, shakshuka is the Middle East’s version of Kraft Dinner. Unlike mac and cheese out of a box, it is a dish you will continue to crave years past your student days and many clicks after the honeymoon of your marriage turns into mustard-sun.
The shakshuka wars started in my household on the fifth week of my marriage and have spanned ten years, traveled to two continents and have yet to reach a peaceful resolution. It all started when, after returning from our honeymoon, Samih decided to make shakshuka for dinner one night.
I took one bite and screwed up my face. “This shakshuka is all wrong!” A rather arrogant proclamation from somebody who didn’t know how to boil an egg.
“Wrong how?” Samih smiled, bemused, the way you would be entertained with a cute three year old saying a four-letter word that they didn’t understand. I hate it when Samih treats me in a patronizing way.
“It’s too oniony,” I said in the same tone I might have used to say “Smoking causes cancer.”
“You just don’t know what shakshuka is supposed to taste like, that’s all.” Samih tore a piece of pita bread. Folded it to create a scoop. Drenched the bread in the tomato massacre on his plate. Placed the dripping bundle into his mouth. “I bet the taste of tomato with the eggs seems unfamiliar, you’re probably used to scrambled eggs instead,” Samih said with a full mouth. Bits of masticated poached egg stained red flashed behind his teeth with each chew.
“I know the difference between shakshuka and scrambled eggs. I know how it’s supposed to taste and this tastes wrong!” I placed my fork down and pushed my plate away.
“I am certain your mother never made shakshuka.” You know an argument is going sideways when your mother gets mentioned.





I signed up to review because the blurb was intriguing and unique. At first, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and struggled. It didn't hook me right away while feeling random and pointless.

Give it 50 pages though, give Thaniya 50 pages to introduce threads of her life and start weaving them together. 50 pages for a unique perspective and intersection that's overlooked and missing from pop culture.

I was hooked by 35.

Spoonful Chronicles doesn't follow a linear path. Different chapters start, revolve, or end on a dish or ingredient. Along with her rules of cooking there's insight, humor, and quotables. It's not a traditional narrative, Thaniya speaks to the reader and is aware she's writing it all down.


  • There are some threads that feel unresolved, like her friend that ends up having a mental breakdown.
  • That and Thaniya's "measuring mental illness" could've been handled better.
  • Love the sections about her college friend, their drama, and their falling out.
  • There's a McDreamy. I LOVE how Thaniya described him. "Nose read for directions" is one of my favorite phrase that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
  • The revelations about her husband and their courtship towards the end made things just *click* for me.
  • Love the bringing the sleeping kids in from the car scene.
  • Thaniya with her kids and talking about her kids is adorable.
  • Totally understand the reflection and wondering how one ended up they way they did.
  • The Mango chapter about immigrating, especially the first passage was mesmerizing and informative.
  • It felt a tad long towards the end, but it's worth it.
  • Love the ending, quite a powerful punch.




I entered the world of cooking the same way I entered my sex life. Tragically unprepared, but feverishly curious.

I outran a nightmare, losing all facility for dreaming along the way.

Cry me a river and I shall pollute it!

“Give the poor Iraqi man a break!” I say. “He has enough intolerable burdens to deal with as is, why should happy?”

Only your mother is willing to cook for you badly.





Author Bio

D:\Documents\Enchanted Book Promotions\Book Tours\Upcoming Tours\Spoonful Chronicles\HeadShot.jpgMy name is Elen. I am an Iraqi-Canadian. Please allow me to tell you a story of a curios event that happened to me. I was a perfectly happy computer programmer doing the nerdy stuff that computer programmers do. You know! Geeky stuff. Like the normal stuff that an Iraqi-Canadian would do if they worked as a computer programmer. When one day, out of nowhere, the inspiration to write hit me over the head. It came at me fast and furious and turned my life topsy turvy. I was always an avid reader. Ok I was a bookish geek. But the idea that I would try to write never even occurred to me, until the violent incident with the muse. Since then I have published a memoir called “Don’t Shoot! … I Have Another Story to Tell You“. Which Was followed by a novel called Graffiti Hack. That one tells the story of a hacker who installs lavish graphical designs on commercial websites. Imagine the trouble she gets in? Well I had to. I was writing the story, so I had to imagine every last bit. A third novel is on it way. I don’t know where all these ideas come from, they just pop in my head and I write them down. In addition to writing, I am a flamenco dancer, I enjoy painting and I love to cook. Somehow all these activities inspire each other.

I am a married mother of three, living in a pink house in Vancouver BC
Really I just love telling stories and I love listening to stories.




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