Top critical review
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Sadly mixed review
on 26 February 2013
This is more than just a recipe book despite it being that - a book crammed full of over 300 traditional North African recipes. Confused? Well the quality of the book's endearing, explanatory text makes it just appear different - and there are not any scene-setting colour photographs either.
The author provides a fairly good overview to the rich, diverse cuisine of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya and the reader is encouraged to try these relative simplistic, flavour-rich dishes at home in their original, unexpurgated glory. Leafing through, the reader can learn possibly new ways of food preparation that could even stand them in good stead when cooking other cuisines and even lead to some fusion inspiration. However, it must be stated, this book stands for tradition rather than modern change. You can make a lot of good dishes from these traditional recipes yet, should you desire and have the inquisitive nature, you are able to customise things further and with a fair degree of confidence thanks to the grounding this book gives.
This is a revised paperback edition (the hardback was published in 2009) and one must question the point of this paperback issue other than cost grounds. The book's bindings are flimsy and even after light handling by the postal services and then a YUM reviewer it looks like it has been sitting on the shelves of a charity shop for many years. The book feels cramped due to the narrow margins, the relatively small fonts and general design. A classic case of spoiling the ship for a little bit of tar. One doesn't expect the high production values that a hardback may command, but a little more care and attention may have made this look less like a mass produced paperback. This book deserves more. The content is good but the casual browser might not even give it that much chance to prove itself.
If you are prepared to persevere then this book will be a good little gem for your culinary exploration and exploitation. That much we can say. If you do find that this becomes a favourite, you may want to see what the older hardback book has to offer as it should be more robust and less prone to falling to pieces after a short time. This would have been a good "four YUM" book if not for the poor "packaging."
After a plethora of recipes and perhaps a bit of eyeache for good measure, a very good, comprehensive index rounds the book off with a bit of dignity.