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The Foods of Israel Today Hardcover – March 6, 2001

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The Foods of Israel Today + Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook + Jewish Cooking in America: Expanded Edition (Knopf Cooks American)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Modern Israel is one of the world's great culinary melting pots, and Nathan (author of the highly successful PBS series and cookbook Jewish Cooking in America) does it justice in this exceptional and comprehensive examination of its diverse cultural lineage. Israeli flavors include those of the Middle East like Classic Israeli Eggplant Dip, new inventions such as Israeli Revisionist Haroset and imported traditions like Judith Tihany's Transylvanian Green Bean Soup. Nathan collects recipes from both ordinary Israelis including 97-year-old Shoshana Kleiner, whose instruction for her Fourth Aliyah Vegetable Soup is "Cook until cooked!" and popular restaurants, such as Jerusalem's Eucalyptus. Nor are local Arabic traditions given short shrift, spotlighting dishes like Zucchini with Yogurt. The book also offers information ranging from the best places to eat falafel and notes on Israeli wine to a good-sized glossary. Nathan, who spent more than two years working for Teddy Kollek when he was mayor of Jerusalem, generously sprinkles the pages with her personal memories as well as descriptions of the pioneering spirit of early Israelis: in the days when a home oven was a luxury, they often made a dessert "salami" of crushed cookies, wine, cocoa and nuts. Agent, Susan Lescher. (Mar. 15) Forecast: As one of the first books to concentrate on the breadth of Israeli cuisine, rather than Ashkenazic or Sephardic cooking, this is a true original. Moreover, given Nathan's established following and a first print run of 50,000 copies, stores should anticipate energetic sales.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nathan is the author of Jewish Cooking in America and an authority on the subject. In her ambitious new work, she explores the food and culinary traditions of modern Israel, which she describes as not a melting pot but rather a multicultural "mosaic." Most of the more than 300 recipes she collected come from home cooks, and their stories make this title almost as much a cultural history as cookbook. The bread chapter, for example, includes Pita Spinach Turnovers from a Bedouin family, Yemenite Pancakes, Sesame Bread from the Armenian community in Jerusalem, Ethiopian Shabbat Bread, and Pan de Casa from a Moroccan grandmother. The extensively researched text provides background on the many immigrant groups that make up Israel's population; there are also photographs of many of the people she encountered, literary and biblical quotations, and even a brief Guide to Good Eating in Israel. Although Israeli recipes appear in other Middle Eastern and Jewish cookbooks, Nathan's impressive work is unique. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679451072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679451075
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Nathan is the author of ten cookbooks and a regular contributor to The New York Times and Tablet Magazine. She is the author of the much-acclaimed Jewish Cooking in America, which in 1994 won both the James Beard Award and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award; as well asThe New American Cooking which also won the James Beard and IACP Awards as best American cookbook published in 2005. Her most recent book is Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. Her other books include Foods of Israel Today, Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook, The Jewish Holiday Baker, The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen, and The Flavor of Jerusalem.

In 2004 Ms. Nathan was the Guest Curator of Food Culture USA, the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC, based on the research for her book, The New American Cooking.

Ms. Nathan's PBS television series, Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan, was nominated in 2000 for the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Show. She was also senior producer of Passover: Traditions of Freedom, an award-winning documentary sponsored by Maryland Public Television. Ms. Nathan has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs including the Today show, Good Morning, America, and National Public Radio.

An inductee to the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who in American Food and Beverage, she has also received the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts magazine. In addition, Ms. Nathan received an honorary degree from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Culture in Chicago and the Golda Award from the American Jewish Congress.

Joan Nathan was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a master's degree in French literature and earned a master's in public administration from Harvard University. For three years she lived in Israel where she worked for Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem. In 1974, working for Mayor Abraham Beame in New York, she co-founded the Ninth Avenue Food Festival. The mother of three grown children, Ms. Nathan lives in Washington, D.C. and Martha's Vineyard with her husband, attorney Allan Gerson.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on March 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With 300 recipes, two pages of suggested Israeli restaurants, two web sources for ingredients, and nine suggested menus, Nathan shows the diverse cuisines of Israel?s sabras and immigrants. THIS IS ISRAELI CUISINE that is being eaten in Israel. Includes turkey schnitzel, quick kibbutz apple cake, eggplant salad, and halvah chocolate cake. Includes Transylvania Green Bean Soup, a dessert salami (made of cookies) and the Chocolate Cake recipe from the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. It includes over a dozen poultry recipes, including Doro Wat, a spicy chicken of Ethiopian Jews; and Hamim, an overnight chicken dish with cloves, spaghetti, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Ms Nathan felt compelled to write this 400 page book on the night Itzhak Rabin was assassinated (Nov 4, 1995). Three decades ago, she lived in Israel for three years and worked in Jerusalem for Mayor Teddy Kollek for over two years (where Nathan co-wrote her first cookbook). The book is in the style of her earlier American Jewish Cooking book, namely, each recipe is preceded by an oral history, and there are histories, classic photos, and stories between the recipes. For example, to complement the recipe for Shakshuka, the reader learns about the Doktor Shakshuka Restaurant in old Jaffa and its owners. For the burekas recipe, we read about eating burekas at Jerusalem?s city hall in the Seventies. While discussing the Friedman?s farm in Rosh Pina, we get lots of farm recipes. A recipe for Kaiserschmarrn is coupled with an old picture of Beit Ha?Pancake?s roadside gas station and a story about the search for the dish?s Viennese roots. In addition to salad, tahina, and hummus recipes, Nathan lists 19 of the best places for hummus from Jerusalem to Akko to Haifa. Plus 12 happening places for falafel.Read more ›
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Aidan Gilbert on August 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I would emphatically disagree with the person who characterized this as a coffee table book! It only leaves my kitchen so I can read it on the train or before I go to sleep! It has completely changed the way my family eats! I have often bemoned not being able to have fresh bread with dinner because my wife and I both work. Now we have homemade pita most days with dinner, and couscous has completely replaced pasta as our staple starch. My wife and 6-year-old love everything I've made from it -- from the Moroccan meatballs with tomato-olive sauce to kubbanah (a sabbath bread baked overnight) to fishballs in a spicy tomato sauce to chocolate challah! I now even make my own harissa (Tunisian hot hot hot sauce)! Joan Nathan, already one of my favorite cookbook authors, has really created a masterpiece. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with it -- it is such a joy and opens the door to the cuisine of Israel to the American home cook. My only suggestion for improvement -- and it is small -- would have been to include a resourse for purchasing some of the exotic or esoteric cookware mentioned in the book. I would love to own a kubbanah pan and a large couscousierre, but don't know where to get either in the states. I love this book and will probably buy a second copy to tuck away for when I wear this copy out! I wouldn't want to live without it! Bravo, Ms. Nathan!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ein Kunde on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you believe that every dish has a story to tell, in other words, if you are the kind of person who likes to read cookbooks as much as you like to cook by them, then "The Foods of Israel Today" by Joan Nathan is a book for you. While the title indicates these are foods found in contemporary Israel, each dish is traditional, originating perhaps in Israel, or more often somewhere else: Germany, Iran, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Turkey, etc., but all a part of the Jewish diaspora and eventual return to multicultural Israel. The author really tells the story of each dish (there is just as much "story" as actual recipe): the people that make it, where they come from, how they live, and how the author came to learn it all. There are lots of historic photographs too. One slight drawback is that this book is most useful to someone who is an experienced cook, especially one who is familiar with Jewish cuisine. In a few places where a food or cooking technique may not be familar, it is not as much a step-by-step guide as it could be. However, this is a minor fault in a very valuable and enjoyable book.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By JR25 on September 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I tend to stick to the classic cookbooks (Claudia Roden for Middle Eastern food, for example), but I know I will be cooking from "The foods of Israel Today" for a long time. There are some terrific recipes in here.
I do have a few problems with the book, though. One is its references to obscure ingredients, usually spices, with little help on where to get them or what substitutions might work. For example, what do you do if you don't happen to have ground sumac? Some recipes call for 'baharat', with no reference to what it is. The index points to Jaffa Orange-Ginger Chicken with Baharat, which offers a rather vague definition of a spice mixture that "varies from cook to cook." What to do?
Another problem is the pictures, or lack of them. There are lots of somewhat murky black-and-white historical snapshots, some of them pretty interesting. But this food is out-of-the-ordinary for most cooks, and I'd like to see pictures of it. How to cut a potato in half and then get the stuffing to stay between the layers or cut a casserole into diamond shapes? Instead of a picture of the dish, there's a guy on a camel. Line drawings would be a big help for some of the techniques. The three 8-page tip-ins of color pictures are a strange selection, and to me, they don't capture the color and variety of Israeli food. They also make Israel look more third-world and primitive than it is.
Another matter is whether everything can actually be made as it's described. For example, those stuffed vegetables. You are supposed to cut the top off tomatoes and onions, stuff them with a meat filling, and then brown them on all sides? I envision a mess, with most of the filling falling out into the frying oil. Wouldn't they brown sufficiently in the oven?
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