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Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 26, 2010

26 customer reviews

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Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France + Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook + Jewish Cooking in America: Expanded Edition (Knopf Cooks American)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267597
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By gopigirl on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Riding in the car, heard an interview on the radio, in which Joan Nathan talked about having matah balls made with bone marrow, and I pulled over and ordered the book even though I didn't know if the recipe was in it!
It's an interesting cookbook, but more valuable to me as a history book. The intersection of North African, Jewish and French culture is well explored in the text and is a great read.
The recipes are pretty well dispersed, one supposes a fairly accurate array of what French Jews cook at home - but this is maybe a little different than French/Jewish cuisine? A lot of the recipes are easily found in other sources, and don't require any adaptation to make them kosher, or are not too far afield from what could be found, or inspired by, in a good vegetarian cookbook - like quiche without lardons, celeriac remoulade, or Roquefort souffle.
The North African recipes are the most interesting, but so far the versions I've tried from this book are less lively than the ones in my Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian cookbooks - and have not needed any modifications to be kosher.
So - its more a "living room" historical and cultural book for me - and an excellent one in that respect - rather than a manual I'll use in the kitchen.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kate Runyan on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another excellent book by Joan Nathan, and really worth owning! We've enjoyed several Algerian and Moroccan salads and vegetable dishes, and I intend to try many more dishes. The book covers way more than couscous and kugel, and it's really something special and worth having.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ellen P on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love all the stories and photos about the cooks whose recipes the author used. It makes for a very personalized cookbook.
Some of the recipes can't be found anywhere else and I'm excited to try more recipes for Jewish dishes that are quite different from the expected American-Jewish staples.
More details about the book and some of the recipes are at boldlygosolo dot com, December 6 post.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marsey on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Nathans has created a truly beautiful book that cannot be reasonably called just a cookbook. Her travels and research into Jewish cuisine in France made me long to return for another trip and follow her footsteps! Her recipes are so descriptive that you just want to make all them right away. But it is her history of Jewish life, history and cuisine in France that is so fascinating that I just sat down and went through the book in one sitting. This is the work of an artist who knows her craft and knows how to tell a story. Even if you don't keep kosher, these recipes will please you.

-Marsey
Baltimore, MD
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By T. M. Lewin on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joan Nathan tells great stories and ties them into her wonderful-sounding recipes. I'm looking forward to tying them very soon. In the meantime, they seem to be accurately presented and with sufficiently specific directions to make them easy to prepare. But be sure you're strong enough to hold the book -- it's heavy -- and its printed on very heavy and substantial paper! Lots of great history!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By DSH on November 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading the stories about the Jews in France and the recipes look great (I just received it and have not cooked from the book yet) but I can tell that the recipes are good since I'm an experienced cook/baker, etc. and can tell generally whether a recipe will come out good or not just by looking at it. Nice pictures throughout also though not quite at the artistic level of Martha Stewart's books (which no one else has even come close anyway, to be fair to this author).

This book combines my two great loves - French food and Jewish food, so thank you!

My copy also has the normal machine cut edge -- which I like better actually than the fancy edge because it's easier to find a recipe in a hurry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Goodman on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a chatty, informative look at the Jewish cooking of France. Although finding the ingredients for some of the dishes are a challenge to American cooks who don't live in a city like NY, some of the recipes are very accessible. Some are daunting in their detail and numerous steps involving a lot of time and most home cooks wouldn't want to be bothered. On the other hand, some of the recipes that seem very exotic also seem rather easy to execute and I look forward to learning how to make some new and exotic dishes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kids Toys purchaser on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book about six months ago at a book reading. And although it is a great read, I have yet to make a dish. Each time I make a selection the recipe requires an obscure ingredient, a lot of prep time, or will not work with the rest of the meal. The book is no longer in the kitchen with my cookbooks. But in the bookcase with all my other reading material. It is a good read.
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