Alice Waters Reviews Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous
Alice Waters is a chef, author, food activist, and proprietor of Chez Panisse, her restaurant in Berkeley, California. For four decades, Waters has been a champion of local, organic, and sustainable food. She founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1995, which works to promote Edible Schoolyards around the country that integrate growing and cooking fresh, delicious food into school curricula. In addition, Waters is a vice president of Slow Food International, an organization dedicated to preserving the world’s local and artisan food traditions. She is also the author of several cookbooks, including the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, and In the Green Kitchen. Read her review of Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous:
In her latest collection of recipes, Joan Nathan shows that she is an anthropologist of the first order as she explores the point of intersection between French and Jewish food traditions and chronicles how it has come to form a culture all its own.
I have come to expect nothing less than the most thoughtfully researched and recorded recipes from Joan, and this latest book will help to redefine the world of Jewish cuisine for many home cooks, myself included. As much as this book shows Joan’s care in communicating recipes, it is also a testament to her skill as a scholar of the world’s food traditions. Joan is a remarkable curator of recipes, selecting dishes that are not only delicious, but that communicate the history of this unique cuisine.
In a time when so many of the world’s food cultures are threatening to disappear, we need more books like Joan’s--books that teach us about the local food traditions and local ingredients that have been sustaining us for generations. If we don’t record these traditions, they will surely be forgotten. Through this book, Joan has found a way not only to make these French-Jewish dishes approachable, but also to preserve them for today’s cooks and for cooks of future generations.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This well-researched, fascinating cookbook encapsulates 2,000 years of Jewish history in France. Nathan, the James Beard Award–winning doyenne of Jewish cooking (Jewish Cooking in America), applies her culinary detective skills to sniffing out the Jewish influence on French cuisine, and vice versa. Her rich subject matter yields both vast diversity and unexpected commonalities. Friday night Sabbath dinners alone can range from the Alsatian pot-au-feu to Moroccan adafina (meat stew with chickpeas and rice). The Germanic Alsatian specialties like potato kugel will be familiar to many Jewish Americans, while the North African dishes like brik with tuna and cilantro and m'soki (a Passover spring vegetable ragout originating in Tunisia) reflect Sephardic customs. Nathan also explores cross-cultural concoctions such as Provençal brassados (a precursor to the bagel), brandade potato latkes, and a Bordeaux haroset by way of Portugal, all of which embody both the complicated migratory paths and acculturation of the Jewish people. This being France, though, there are lovely renditions of native dishes, too--chestnut cream g;teau, braised endive, cassoulet. Nathan's multilayered, narrative approach makes this treasury of tempting flavors an entertaining and compelling read. Photos. (Nov.) (c)
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