6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
My Favourite Cookery Book, 28 Mar 2005
This is a great book. For a start, even if you never cook a single recipe from it, it makes a fascinating read. Claudia Roden makes an enthusiastic and illuminating historian of food, highlighting the social importance of the feast, food as an element of identity, and the strange routes that dishes and foodstuffs have taken in following the peregrinations of the Jews in the world. As a cookbook, it is full of great recipies - some of which are as you would expect - Algerian tagines, Eastern European offal and Middle Eastern dips. As such you can often use it to look up things that you suddenly take a fancy for. But there are also many new discoveries. Who would have thought that an Iraqi recipie for Turnip with dates would turn out so well?
Of course, as the Jews have travelled nearly everywhere in the course of their diaspora, it works well as a world cookbook, but with a real identity - not just a random collection of recipies from here and there, but food with a narrative. It is also extremely user-friendly. The index is second to none, so that you can really tailor your cooking to the ingredients you have in the house - even down to wanting to cook something with cumin or tomatoes in it- look at the back and see what comes up for that particular spice or veg.
Finally, Roden has a nice habit of putting in alternatives if you can't get that particular ingredient. Lamb tagine with walnuts - or apricots if you haven't got them. Many of the recipies are very simple and easy to make, and others are more complicated, so it works well for a whole range of culinary ambitions.