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The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day Paperback – 26 Aug 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140466096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140466096
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 2.6 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Claudia Roden, author of The Book of Jewish Food, has done more than simply compile a cookbook of Jewish recipes--she has produced a history of the Diaspora, told through its cuisine. The book's 800 recipes reflect many cultures and regions of the world, from the Jewish quarter of Cairo where Roden spent her childhood to the kitchens of Europe, Asia and the Americas. Both Ashkenazi and Sepharidic cooking are well represented here: hallah bread, bagels, blintzes and kugels give way to tabbouleh, falafel and succulent lamb with prunes, which are, in turn, succeeded by such fare as Ftut (Yemeni wedding soup) and Kahk (savoury bracelets).

Interwoven throughout the text are Roden's charming asides--the history of certain foods, definitions (Kaimak, for instance, is the cream that rises to the top when buffalo milk is simmered) and ways of preparing everything from an eggplant to a quince. In addition, Roden tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about Jewish dietary laws, what the ancient Hebrews ate and the various holidays and festivals on the Jewish calendar. Detailed sections on Jewish history are beautifully illustrated with archival photographs of families, towns and, of course, food. The Book of Jewish Food is one that any serious cook--Jewish and non-Jewish alike--would gladly have (and use often) in the kitchen. --Kyle Dean

About the Author

Claudia Roden's previous books include MEDITERRANEAN COOKERY, based on her popular BBC series and also includes A NEW BOOK OF MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD, THE BEST FROM THE MIDDLE EAST and her Penguin 60's title FULMEDAMES & OTHER VEGETARIAN DISHES. She haswon six Glenfiddich prizes inc. the 1992 Food Writer of the Year and the Glenfiddich Trophy. She lives in London, NW11.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jan 2003
Format: Paperback
I can only agree with the previous reviewers - as a cookbook this is excellent, crammed full of a tremendous number and variety of great recipes, sensibly organised. As a historical book of a people told through their food it's even better.
It is nothing less than a social history of both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Judiasm told through the medium of food. The recipes have been collected and cherished by Roden, often from friends and relatives, on her travels. Most recipes are accompanied by the historical origins of the dish and thereby reveal something about Jews and Jewish life. The more celebrated and famous dishes, such as chopped liver and cholent, have whole pages of fascinating context, history and photographs devoted to them.
The result is that, as well as eating a fantastic meal (the meatballs and apricots in tomato sauce served with spinach risotto rice and followed by apfel kugel mit eppel is my favourite) you have a real sense of occasion and connection when you eat...even if, like me, you're a Gentile; you know the importance and provenance of your food and can almost see the ragged bagel seller, smell the lid being taken off the sabbath stock pot in the shtetl when you eat.
It's certainly the best and most readable cookbook I own, and in fact one of the most enjoyable books I own.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Klytemnestra on 8 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book that most of my family and friends own, my non-Jewish flatmate read through like a novel, and I always have difficulty putting down. Since Ashkenazi cooking can be found in countless other Jewish cookery books, I appreciated the main focus on Sephardic cooking. I am vegan and even so found hundreds of recipes. The cultural background information is fascinating, and the religious information enables you to produce something a bit different at the festivals - we had the most fabulous (Iranian, I think) stew last Rosh Hashanah, together with home-made challah, and were quite spoilt for choice when it came to making haroset. The only problem is that I get so seduced by reading the recipes that I end up making too much food! However, my friends have certainly been enjoying the pastries I take to meetings. I have had no problems following the delicious recipes and Roden is usefully realistic about substitutes for ingredients unobtainable in Britain, warnings for extra-hot dishes and so on. She also gives basic recipes followed by several variations for many dishes, especially the popular ones; this can be useful if you want a different slant on a traditional dish, for example a borsht which isn't too violently beetrooty. The personal touch - anecdotes about where she met the recipe donor, or traditional dishes in her family - is delightful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Aug 2000
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book that most of my family and friends own, my non-Jewish flatmate read through like a novel, and I always have difficulty putting down. Since Ashkenazi cooking can be found in countless other Jewish cookery books, I appreciated the main focus on Sephardic cooking. I am vegan and even so found hundreds of recipes. The cultural background information is fascinating, and the religious information enables you to produce something a bit different at the festivals - we had the most fabulous (Iranian, I think) stew last Rosh Hashanah, together with home-made challah, and were quite spoilt for choice when it came to making haroset. The only problem is that I get so seduced by reading the recipes that I end up making too much food! However, my friends have certainly been enjoying the pastries I take to meetings. I have had no problems following the delicious recipes and Roden is usefully realistic about substitutes for ingredients unobtainable in Britain, warnings for extra-hot dishes and so on. She also gives basic recipes followed by several variations for many dishes, especially the popular ones; this can be useful if you want a different slant on a traditional dish, for example a borsht which isn't too violently beetrooty. The personal touch - anecdotes about where she met the recipe donor, or traditional dishes in her family - is delightful.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Claudia Roden, probably and deservedly the best known of all Middle Eastern cookery writers writing today, has created an absolute treasure in this book. It is simply a must-have for anyone serious about Jewish cooking.
The book is divided into two sections, the first much shorter than the endlessly more fascinating second. Roughly the first third of the book is dedicated to the more traditional style of Jewish cooking, the Eastern European-influenced Ashkenazi cooking. It's in the second two-thirds of this cookbook, however, that Roden's extensive knowledge of her genre really shines through: Sephardi cooking. Such a fascinating mix of spices, flavours and ingredients! Everything I've made from this book has been nothing short of a show-stopper. Highly recommended are the Lamb with Prunes, the Lentil Soup, the Risotto with Artichokes, the Potatoes with Black Olives, the Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts and the Tishpishti (a walnut/almond dessert for Passover).
Finally, if you're not a truly serious foodie, you should consider buying this book for its fantastically interesting background reading. Roden is a Jewish woman who grew up in Cairo, though her family hailed from Turkey. She sheds light on not only her own background but, indeed, on the history of Jewish culture and cuisine in such places as India, China, the Balkans, Morocco, etc.
A GREAT cookbook and deserving of the extensive awards it has garnered.
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