Claudia Roden's - The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York
First, I'm a food and history buff, but not Jewish (not that there's anything wrong with that).
This book has been fascinating, and the recipes incredible. It's a book a borrowed from the library with the thought to peruse until WOW, so many things. All of the middle eastern foods I had wanted a recipe book for. Southern/Mediterranean recipes. It's basically a history of Western food, regardless of religion (or in spite of it).
While I don't have religious issues regarding foods, it was interesting to see that replacements were studied, tried, and successfully used (including the reasons). That is similar to what dieters, those with allergies, vegetarians, ex-patriots, or anyone else uses to get their own meals made well and tasty. The origins of the foods we all love--religious or not--are touched upon, some more fervently than others. Regardless, it has Western food in a nutshell. All of it. How to make it and stories from where it may have come or been derived from (some taken with a grain of salt).
Once I return this book, I will get at least a few copies--one for myself, others as gifts. Minimally as a companion to Julia Child, Fannie Farmer, and other tomes I have. Seriously, it has recipes from throughout the world which anyone--Jewish, pagan, gentile, or otherwise, would and should want to try.
How do you know you have too many cookbooks? (Not that there is a such a thing!) When you read about a great cookbook, find out if it is in your local library and...wait, that cover online looks really familiar...oh, yeah maybe because it is sitting on a bookshelf along with many other (I should count one of these days) inherited books from my maternal grandmother. What have you made that worked out well?
I have The Book of Jewish Food too and I love it. I found it when Googling for a different seafood recipe this summer and a Claudia Roden recipe came up. Since then I've made about 5 recipes from the book, each very well received here, including the whole fish recipe which was delicious. I don't have the book in front of me now, but I think I've made mostly Eastern European dishes .... would that be Ashkenazi? Anyway, it's a wonderful book for not only the food but the history as well.
Yeah, it's a great, great book. I cook from it all the time. I find it a little weaker on the Ashkenazi side, but that's not where she's coming from, literally. It's also lovely to discover the Jewish origins of so many pretty common recipes (meatballs in sweet-and-sour tomato sauce? Who knew?). Have you made anything from it that you especially recommend?