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The Essential Mediterranean: How Regional Cooks Transform Key Ingredients Into the World's Favorite Cuisinesby Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Synopses & Reviews
With The Essential Mediterranean, Nancy Harmon Jenkins continues her lifelong exploration of Mediterranean food — how it is grown, prepared, and shared around the table. In her latest book, Ms. Jenkins introduces cooks and readers to a cluster of core ingredients and foodways that are fundamental to all of the Mediterranean's diverse cuisines. She shows how the Mediterranean attitude toward food — a combination of respect, integrity, enthusiasm, and sheer joy — can be cultivated across the Atlantic.
In twelve informative and captivating chapters, the author focuses on the core ingredients common to the diverse cuisines of the region: salt, wine and vinegar, pasta and couscous, bread, olive oil, Old World legumes, New World peppers and tomatoes, dairy products, the family pig, and the resources of the sea. In each chapter she travels to a different corner of the Inner Sea to describe how and why these essential ingredients are obtained, what determines their quality, and where they fit in local cuisines.
Each chapter draws on history and ethnography as much as on the lives of Mediterranean people today. Readers will delight in Majid Mahjoub, the colorful Tunisian "Shakespeare of olive oil," and commiserate with Provencal cheese maker Yves van Weddingen as he struggles to maintain his standards in the face of bureaucratic demands. Home cooks will garner a new appreciation of high-quality Spanish jamon de bellota as they follow the Trigo family through the annual winter ritual of transforming the family pig into hams and sausages.
More than 170 contemporary, accessible recipes, simple to reproduce at home, bring the foods and the regions alive, while additional chapters include basic procedures and staples, as well as a helpful guide to ingredient sources.
The Essential Mediterranean gets to the heart of this world, celebrating its diverse food cultures and the shared ingredients that are the essence of these remarkable cuisines.
"Books on Mediterranean food are common, but this one is uncommonly good. Jenkins's writing experience stands her in good stead in this innovative exploration of this sunny region." Publishers Weekly
"This is an important contribution to cultural anthropology as well as to cooking." Booklist
"[Jenkin's] enthusiasm is catching, and in this book she breaks down the recipes into chapters based on the core ingredients common to the cuisines of the region." The New York Times
"Offering new perspective on the enduringly popular cuisines of the Mediterranean, as well as more than 100 delicious recipes, this is highly recommended." Library Journal
Includes bibliographical references (p. -420) and index.
Filled with folklore, anecdotes, and 120 recipes, this cookbook is a Mediterranean journey devoted to the essential ingredients that make the cuisine so healthy and the culture so vibrant. 20 line drawings.
About the Author
Hailed as "an anthropologist of the human soul as revealed through food" (Amazon.com), Nancy Harmon Jenkins has written frequently about Mediterranean cuisine (The Essential Mediterranean, Flavors of Tuscany, Flavors of Puglia, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook). She also writes for national publications, including the New York Times and Food & Wine, and she works closely with the Culinary Institute of America, leading tours to Italy and Spain for the CIA's Worlds of Flavor program.
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