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    Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Mediterranean

    A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes

    Wright, Clifford A.

    Morrow Cookbooks
    Published: November 3, 1999
    ISBN: 0688153054

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    Book Description
    To answer the question, "What does Mediterranean mean and what is Mediterranean food" in The Mediterranean Feast, Clifford Wright delves into not merely history, but also agronomy, economics, geography, and more. He dedicates this monumental synthesis of the influences that eventually produced Mediterranean food as we know it to "the philosophers and the cooks." Fortunately, when it seems the intellectuals have taken over completely, one comes on Wright's lyrical description of eating a cassoulet, the golden-crusted, complex French bean stew, and other passages proving that Wright's intense quest for knowledge is based on a cook's culinary passion.

    Illustrated with maps and brimming with more than 500 recipes, A Mediterranean Feast is Wright's way of leading the reader beyond the popular, romantic image of this region as an eternally bountiful land. He explains how the complex web of influences between the fall of the Roman Empire in the 6th century and the Age of Reason in the 17th century transformed the Mediterranean from a harsh place where poverty and famine made "dying of hunger ... a defining occurrence," to one we could romanticize, seeing it as ever lush with citrus, sun-ripe tomatoes, laden vines, exquisite cheeses, artisanal breads, and simple but well-fed folk. Those who rise to absorb the encyclopedic knowledge and engage with the ideas set forth in this dense work, such as the peasants' willingness to accept new, unfamiliar foods to relieve the boredom and scarcity of subsistence eating, will receive a profound education about Mediterranean life as it historically relates to food.

    While A Mediterranean Feast feeds the mind, it also offers a wealth of authentic and intriguing dishes from the entire region, from France to Algeria and Spain to the Near East. Readers primarily interested in cooking can flip through this massive book, picking out remarkable recipes such as the pine nut omelet of southern France, Umm Ali, a creamy Egyptian pudding containing phyllo, nuts, coconut, and raisins, and Nohutlu Pilavi, the buttery Turkish pilaf of rice simmered with chickpeas. --Dana Jacobi

    Product Description:

    A groundbreaking culinary work of extraordinary depth and scope that spans more than one thousand years of history, A Mediterranean Feast tells the sweeping story of the birth of the venerated and diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean. Author Clifford A. Wright weaves together historical and culinary strands from Moorish Spain to North Africa, from coastal France to the Balearic Islands, from Sicily and the kingdoms of Italy to Greece, the Balkan coast, Turkey, and the Near East.

    The evolution of these cuisines is not simply the story of farming, herding, and fishing; rather, the story encompasses wars and plagues, political intrigue and pirates, the Silk Road and the discovery of the New World, the rise of capitalism and the birth of city-states, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the obsession with spices. The ebb and flow of empires, the movement of populations from country to city, and religion have all played a determining role in making each of these cuisines unique.

    In A Mediterranean Feast, Wright also shows how the cuisines of the Mediterranean have been indelibly stamped with the uncompromising geography and climate of the area and a past marked by both unrelenting poverty and outrageous wealth. The book's more than five hundred contemporary recipes (which have been adapted for today's kitchen) are the end point of centuries of evolution and show the full range of culinary ingenuity and indulgence, from the peasant kitchen to the merchant pantry. They also illustrate the migration of local culinary predilections, tastes for food and methods of preparation carried from home to new lands and back by conquerors, seafarers, soldiers, merchants, and religious pilgrims.

    A Mediterranean Feast includes fourteen original maps of the contemporary and historical Mediterranean, a guide to the Mediterranean pantry, food products resources, a complete bibliography, and a recipe and ge

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