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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about Judaism through the medium of food
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...
Published on 15 Jan 2003

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good cookbook for Kindle.
A very disappointing Kindle book. Completely impossible to find recipes as the Kindle version has no index or list of contents beyond the general chapters.

I'm sure this is not the case in the actual book, but for Kindle readers it is useless.
Published 2 months ago by Angela


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about Judaism through the medium of food, 15 Jan 2003
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of the Jews through their stomachs!, 8 Mar 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of the Jews through their stomachs!, 15 Aug 2000
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have Book For The Adventurous Eater & Cook, 8 April 2001
By A Customer
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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on food I have ever read, 3 Sep 2001
By 
Mr. Paul S. Bird "dagadadagada" (Aylesbury) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Quite simply, this deserves a place in everyone's kitchen. Not also that, but also in everyone's bookshelf, as this is a book as good to read as it is to cook from. There are quite literally hundreds of recipes here, all easy to use, and all provide superb results. The amount of research and effort that Roden has put into her book is astonishing. You could quite easily live for the rest of your life eating only meals you cook from this book and never become bored. Maybe you'd put on a few pounds here and there, but everything good has a price. This is a bargin at the price - some may be put off by the lack of a glitzy Naked-Chef style colour photo section, but you don't need it at all - Roden has chosen her recipes carefully and very few are tricky. This is not to say the results are simplistic - far from it, you'll find some of the most delicious meals you've ever made pouring forth from your kitchen. I urge you to buy this book now, and pray for more like it. Every culture deserves a book like this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most comprehensive book on food I have read, 27 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This is one of the greatest food books ever. It's not just a cookbook, but an ethnographical acount of Jewish life around the world - all tied togther by food - the single currency that makes sense of our lives. I read the book from cover to cover and then i cooked from cover to cover. The most beautiful book, I am truly inspired. There cannot be many books (on food or otherwise) that can compare.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book,much more than just a cookbook., 25 Dec 2001
By 
Ihave read most of Ms Rodens books and this is the best yet.Her style of writing is so interesting,no glitz,just an extremely informative guide not only to Jewish cooking but also the history and reasons why the dietary laws were laid down.It is also a very good read.I now cook from it all the time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful modern classic., 27 Feb 2013
After several months, I've finally finished it. However, this is not the last of my dealings with this book, not by a long stretch - I've far too many recipes in mind still. Reading it has that effect, I could not help but stop and get the apron out.

It's very clearly laid out in two sections on the cuisines of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi world of Jewry (this will become clear upon reading). In between the recipes are interesting chapters on the different Jews worldwide, spanning the Americas, western and eastern Europe, the Near East, Africa and Asia. The Diaspora is as expansive as the world, of all nationalities: Polish, Italian, French, Spanish, Iranian, Iraqi, Greek, Turkish, Uzbek, Egyptian, Ethiopian, S.African, Indian, Russian, Chinese are immediately called to mind with plenty in between. It amazes me how ignorant one has been of their cuisine (I've Jewish friends), but there it is, I've been appreciatively informed: it's not all salt fish, bagels and pickled cucumbers, such is the Ashkenazi majority in the UK.

Let not the laws of kashrut (dietary, cooking laws) deter you from what could be wonderful recipes to try. Things you'd never consider 'Jewish' are made by Jews, it's as simple as that: from hot and cold mezze, spicy or soothing soups, dressed or fried vegetables, fish, cheese and dairy recipes, overnight stews, coconut curries, fruity and meaty tagines, rice, wheat, bulgar pilaffs, homemade pasta, sweet and savoury boreks (pie/pastries), basic breads, to exotic desserts, pancakes, potato puddings, sweet puddings, fruit and cream desserts, ice-creams, preserves, condiments: there are enough to try a few different ones everyday. (But being realistic, this is unlikely, so this is truly a book to own for a lifetime of discovery).

This is a testament to proper, home and hearth food of the Jews today, with some refined dishes in between for entertaining, or simply, private indulgence. She's selected what she considers representative and best (there's some overlap given their movement or 'displacement' over the ages), adapted slightly to the modern diet in terms of health and availability (e.g. saturated fats, ingredients such as more recherche offal), but most importantly, I trust her. I'm not inclined to lamb except when it's served to me, but even I can adapt a lot of the recipes to other meats. (So very un-kosher of me, but preferably pork.) Many serves 6-8, but are easily adapted for those with a calculating mind. Complaints, perhaps, concern the the preparation of chutneys/relishes and fruit preserves, such as their safe bottling, maturation and life-span. Another, for a baker, are the breads. Few to choose from, and only representative of the tip from what must be the oldest baking tradition of the world. Remiss of her, it spoils what is brilliant. A shame.

I'd be lying if I said the recipes are the most interesting feature of this book, it nearly is, but it isn't: I adored the chapters on the history of the different ethnic Jews. Thankfully she's included a decent bibliography. So far I've made salt beef (easily a raging success, so worth the effort), aubergine pickle (unexpected, but still interesting), pickled turnips (strange and novel), candied orange (she's right, 'so good' especially when what is available to buy is so poor) with candied lemon next on the list. Currently I have rugelach pastry chilling, ready for filling and baking. What can I say, I don't own many cookbooks that I actually cook from, it's motivational. (I often take guidance too from her Middle Eastern Food.) It easily has a little home on my bookshelf alongside the modern Ottolenghi cookbook, et al.

One last, major actually, disappointment is the complete lack of illustrative photos, it's one of those 'black and white' books. But let that not detract from all its strengths. I'd be poorer without this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Jewish Food, 11 Jan 2008
By 
Fifi (Durham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This book is one of the few cookery books I force on my friends as a gift for any reason. It is so wonderful I cannot imagine living without it. Having something for everybody, (vegetarians, those who like exotic food, those who like plain nursery food) everything recipe works. I have never cooked a dud from this book and even use it frequently for bed time reading. The background section is so interesting and varied, the photos fantastic, that I will continue to buy it for friends and family for as long as it is available.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna, 14 Feb 2004
I think this is one of the best cookery books I have ever bought. The book is truely inspiring. I love the Rye Bread (served thinly sliced and served with cold meats or cheese) and the Honey Cake, both of which are a big hit with our family. Many of the salads are sensational, especially the Potatoes with Black Olives, plus many many more.
A great book!
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