Not Just Hummus
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ten Speed Press, 320 pp., $35
Breaking Bread in the Galilee: A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land
by Abbie Rosner
Hilayon Press, 260 pp., $15
Today's cookbooks often tell us as much about who we are or who we would like to be as they do about what we eat. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's new collection of recipes, reminiscences, and vignettes of Jerusalem's food culture and Abbie Rosner's culinary memoir of traditional foodways in the Galilee both give the reader food for the table and food for thought.
Co-written by a pair of internationally celebrated restaurateurs, Jerusalem: A Cookbook is at once a tribute to the flavors of its authors' childhoods in the city and a celebration of its multicultural, syncretic, evolving food culture. Breaking Bread in the Galilee, by contrast, examines the ancient biblical roots of the region's rural cuisines and their enduring manifestations. But both books describe food as a medium of memory, experience, and identity, while building on the authors' own experiences of food as a bridge across the Jewish-Arab divide.
The four Ottolenghi bakery-cafés in London, of which Sami Tamimi is a partner and the head chef, have won acclaim for their creative take on cuisines from across the Mediterranean and Middle East and inspired two previous bestselling cookbooks. (The pair recently opened a full-fledged restaurant, NOPI.) Readers familiar with them will recognize in Jerusalem: A Cookbook the same signature combination of bold colors and zesty flavors. Ottolenghi and Tamimi's book is full of exuberant recipes featuring intense combinations of spices, condiments, fresh herbs, and a wealth of vegetables, grains, and legumes.