Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 6, 2001)
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #212,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #67 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > Middle Eastern #74 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Special Diet > Kosher #324 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Education & Reference > History
With 300 recipes, two pages of suggested Israeli restaurants, two web sources for ingredients, and nine suggested menus, Nathan shows the diverse cuisines of Israel?s sabras and immigrants. THIS IS ISRAELI CUISINE that is being eaten in Israel. Includes turkey schnitzel, quick kibbutz apple cake, eggplant salad, and halvah chocolate cake. Includes Transylvania Green Bean Soup, a dessert salami (made of cookies) and the Chocolate Cake recipe from the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. It includes over a dozen poultry recipes, including Doro Wat, a spicy chicken of Ethiopian Jews; and Hamim, an overnight chicken dish with cloves, spaghetti, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Ms Nathan felt compelled to write this 400 page book on the night Itzhak Rabin was assassinated (Nov 4, 1995). Three decades ago, she lived in Israel for three years and worked in Jerusalem for Mayor Teddy Kollek for over two years (where Nathan co-wrote her first cookbook). The book is in the style of her earlier American Jewish Cooking book, namely, each recipe is preceded by an oral history, and there are histories, classic photos, and stories between the recipes. For example, to complement the recipe for Shakshuka, the reader learns about the Doktor Shakshuka Restaurant in old Jaffa and its owners. For the burekas recipe, we read about eating burekas at Jerusalem?s city hall in the Seventies. While discussing the Friedman?s farm in Rosh Pina, we get lots of farm recipes. A recipe for Kaiserschmarrn is coupled with an old picture of Beit Ha?Pancake?s roadside gas station and a story about the search for the dish?s Viennese roots. In addition to salad, tahina, and hummus recipes, Nathan lists 19 of the best places for hummus from Jerusalem to Akko to Haifa. Plus 12 happening places for falafel.
I tend to stick to the classic cookbooks (Claudia Roden for Middle Eastern food, for example), but I know I will be cooking from "The foods of Israel Today" for a long time. There are some terrific recipes in here.I do have a few problems with the book, though. One is its references to obscure ingredients, usually spices, with little help on where to get them or what substitutions might work. For example, what do you do if you don't happen to have ground sumac? Some recipes call for 'baharat', with no reference to what it is. The index points to Jaffa Orange-Ginger Chicken with Baharat, which offers a rather vague definition of a spice mixture that "varies from cook to cook." What to do?Another problem is the pictures, or lack of them. There are lots of somewhat murky black-and-white historical snapshots, some of them pretty interesting. But this food is out-of-the-ordinary for most cooks, and I'd like to see pictures of it. How to cut a potato in half and then get the stuffing to stay between the layers or cut a casserole into diamond shapes? Instead of a picture of the dish, there's a guy on a camel. Line drawings would be a big help for some of the techniques. The three 8-page tip-ins of color pictures are a strange selection, and to me, they don't capture the color and variety of Israeli food. They also make Israel look more third-world and primitive than it is.Another matter is whether everything can actually be made as it's described. For example, those stuffed vegetables. You are supposed to cut the top off tomatoes and onions, stuff them with a meat filling, and then brown them on all sides? I envision a mess, with most of the filling falling out into the frying oil. Wouldn't they brown sufficiently in the oven?
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