Top critical review
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Too much about his restaurant, too little about cooking
on January 19, 2014
I know Ottolenghi is the superstar right now, & this may be sacrilegious, but I found this book was way high on fluff and way short on substance- and recipes. The cover is even padded like a pillow. I'm not saying it's not a beautiful book, but double page spreads of someone's back w/ a cute braid, & lots & LOTS of artfully out-of-focus shots, also full page, of his restaurant don't a cookbook make. In fact, I think I found the whole thing so egotistical that it just plain annoyed me. Perhaps that's my problem with it. It's lovely to look at and hold and all that, so maybe it just wasn't the right book for me. I am an experienced cook, certainly not a slave to following recipes, but wanted to learn more about Middle Eastern based cooking, and less about his restaurant. The difficulty of finding some of these ingredients, even in a notably "foodie" city, is kind of silly, too. Is it because I'm in the states & he's in Europe? perhaps.
I have found Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food to be much better to work with- not as artistic, few pictures, but it has loads of recipes. Recipes? Oh, yes, those things.
As I said, it's pretty, but maybe just wasn't a fit for me. I have so many cookbooks, this didn't earn a permanent home on my shelves; I donated it to the thrift shop where I volunteer.