Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Book of New Israeli Food

The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey
by Janna Gur. Schocken, 2008.

Emerging from the remains of old Diaspora communities, Israel's new gastronomic culture is infused with history and alive with the fresh expressions of contemporary chefs.

This impressive oversize volume presents enticing foods and dishes, brilliantly illustrated with photographs by Eilon Paz and described in rich detail by the author. Gur's engaging text covers the basics of Israeli cuisine, from breakfast and breads to olive oil, cheese and wine. A back-of-the-book chapter on Special Ingredients covers many foodstuffs common to the Israeli larder.

The five main chapters present recipes that pertain to Salads etc. (Meze, Hummus, Tahini), The Street and the Market (Bourekas, Malabi, Bagels, Falafel), Simple Pleasures (Soups, Fish, Ptitim, Grill (Pargiyot, Kebab), Shabbat (Challah, Hamin, Chicken Soup), and Holidays (Passover, Shavout, Ramadan).

Culinary sidebars are included with instructions for flame-roasting eggplants, background information on gvina levana and gefilte fish and open-air markets.

The recipes are interesting without being complex, accessible to most home chefs with access to a good market, specialty foods store or online sources. The recipes are conveniently indexed both by main ingredients and alphabetically by title.

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