Surveying America's food scene, Joan Nathan, author of the much-praised Jewish Cooking in America
, notes our increasing openness to exploring traditional ethnic fare as well as "new" dishes. In The New American Cooking
she offers 280 recipes that reflect the growing influence of Asian, Indian, and Latin American cooking on our everyday tables, as well as providing formulas for the likes of Chicken with Barbecue Sauce and Jambalaya with Sausage and Shrimp--dishes to which we have returned, or never left behind. The menu-wide recipe range features such tantalizing fare as Turkish Cucumber Yogurt Soup, Tunisian Fish Couscous, and Grilled Thai Chicken with Lemongrass, and sweets including Wolfgang Puck's Kiwi Clafouti and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Dried Cherries and Brandied Cream Sauce. A chapter on vegetables and vegetarian dishes, with the likes of Ragout of Wild Mushrooms with Shallots and Thyme, and Sautéed Baby Artichokes with Fresh Herbs, is particularly strong. Nathan likes to tell stories, and in sidebars such as "Nova Kim, the Wild Mushroom Lady of Vermont" and "Cooking Iraqi Food in Virginia," she places the dishes within their cultural context, often introducing readers to the recipe-makers themselves, all of whom she visited. Nathan also provides information on ingredients and techniques.
Though one might question the inclusion of very familiar formulas, like the one for chocolate chip cookies, albeit in "improved" versions, the majority of recipes will be new to most readers and all are easily accomplished. With 150 color photos, the book is a delightful addition to the Nathan canon, known for blending cultural-historical investigation with recipes of superior taste. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
What makes a particular dish or technique uniquely American? Nathan, perhaps best known for Jewish Cooking in America
, and the author of seven additional cookbooks, eschews the notion that agribusiness and fast food have commandeered the American palate. Rather, she says the influence of immigrants from diverse areas of the world has, over the past 40 years, made American food fresh, spicy and rife with flavor. Similarly, she notes that the spices and ingredients available to American home cooks are far more varied than they've ever been, as are the options on restaurant menus. In homage to the chefs, farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs who create and contribute to American food culture, Nathan traveled the country and visited the people who help ensure that "the world's food is now literally at our fingertips." The book is part cookbook, part travelogue; readers will surely be intrigued by Nathan's descriptions of a Cuban juice bar in Miami, the advent of Middle Eastern restaurants in Virginia and the Honolulu Fish Auction, where she provides fascinating food lore and a striking sense of place. Nathan covers every course, from Morning Glory Muffins for breakfast to main courses like Haitian Vegetable Stew and desserts such as Molten Chocolate Cake. She does an excellent job of balancing her own voice with that of her interview subjects, making this cookbook as readable as it is practical. 150 full-color photos.
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