Growing up in a Middle Eastern home, rose water was always a part of my family's food culture, lifting the flavors of hearty Persian meat stews and delicate pastries alike with its ethereal perfume. Later I learned the reason behind its pure flavor: Flower waters are derived from fresh blossoms as a by-product of steam distillation, an ancient technique that produces essential oil. The waters are bottled and sold in specialty grocery stores as a cooking ingredient. While developing recipes for our story "Heart of Palestine" the SAVEUR test kitchen turned to orange blossom water, which has been prized throughout the ages. It's easy to see why the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians valued the floral water so much: One splash elevates foods like ka'ik bil ma'amoul, date-stuffed ring cookies, brightening their nutty crumb with an intoxicating perfume and softly bridging the flavors between fruit and spice.
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