Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Mediterranean
The Essential Mediterranean : How Regional Cooks Transform Key Ingredients into the World's Favorite Cuisines
Jenkins, Nancy Harmon
Published: March 1, 2003
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The table of contents of The Essential Mediterranean is the first hint that author Nancy Harmon Jenkins is about to reveal to the reader a Mediterranean most never see or know. "Salt." That's the first chapter, followed by "Olives and Olive
Oil," "Wheat," "Pasta and Couscous," "Wine," "The Oldest Legumes," "Peppers and Tomatoes," "The Family Pig," "The Sea," and "From the Pasture." This is a reader's book. Jenkins writes her way into the heart of the region, its history, its food, its
people with a level of prose and insight rarely encountered in food writing. But she's also a wonderful cook. So these chapters are followed by two appendices that explain basic technique and food sources, because The Essential Mediterranean is also a
"Food," Jenkins writes, "is present in Mediterranean cultures in a way it's not in our own ... the way it's grown and harvested, the way it's prepared, what's in season and out...." The Essential Mediterranean brings that same
sensibility, or at least its potential, into the North American kitchen and home. These are fabulous flavors, she reminds the reader, simple foods, with health benefits suited to life in a spa. And, they are easy to include in our daily fare. It's a
matter of understanding the key ingredients, as though they are building blocks. "A recipe," Jenkins notes, "is a formula.... Cooking, on the other hand, is a strategy...." This is a book to read, and then to taste, with dozens of classic, delicious
recipes. By the time you finish The Essential Mediterranean, you will not only be a better Mediterranean cook, you will know why. --Schuyler Ingle
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.
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.
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