7 April 2016

The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

The front cover

The Book of Jewish Food An Odyssey From Samarkand to New York is so much more than a cookbook.  This scholarly tome is part history, part anthropology, part autobiography.  It is a wonderful read.  It is apparent just how much research Claudia Roden has carried out in writing this book not only in searching for long lost recipes and ingredients but delving into the history behind Jewish Food.  Claudia Roden writes with infectious enthusiasm and informs the reader about A Celebration of Roots: Of Generations Past, Vanished Worlds, and Identity, The Jewish Dietary Laws of Kashrut, The Food of the Ancient Hebrews - in the Bible and the Talmud, The Sabbath and Festivals - the Jewish Calendar before going on to explain The Ashkenazi World The Development of an Ashkenazi Style of Cooking as well as The Sephardi World Many Styles of Sephardi Cooking, with Echoes from Ancient Baghdad, Medieval Spain, and the Ottoman World.  She also writes about the history, the traditions and the recipes of The Three Jewish Communities in India, The Babylonian Jews in the Land of the Two Rivers, Tunisia - Berbers and "Livornese", Persia, Bukharan Jews, Jewish Italy, Morocco - Legacies from Baghdad and Andalusia in the Berber World, A Judeo-Spanish Stronghold in Turkey, Aleppo (Syria) Was the Pearl of the Jewish Kitchen, The Lost Jews of China, and lastly Ethiopian Jews.  The book is interspersed with sepia coloured photographs and old postcards.  Aside from all the recipes and the facts, I suppose what I really like about this book is Claudia Roden's writing style.  There is so much warmth, graciousness and genuine conviviality which immediately makes the reader feel connected to Claudia Roden on a personal level.  It gives us the impression that she is our companion and friend and if we let her she will take us by the hand and together we can go on a culinary adventure reading about a treasure trove of delightful things related to Jewish Food.
Published by ALFRED A. KNOPF    New York    2013    ISBN 978-0-394-53258-5

Claudia Roden is a cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist based in the United Kingdom.  She was born in 1936 in Cairo, Egypt.  After completing her formal education in Paris, she moved to London to study at Saint Martin's School of Art.  She is best known as the author of Middle Eastern cookbooks including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and Arabesque—Sumptuous Food from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon.  She has also been a food writer and a cooking show presenter on the BBC.  She now lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. 
Roden is a Patron of London-based HIV charity The Food Chain.  She is co-chair with Paul Levy of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. She is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.
The back cover
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