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The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean: 215 Healthy, Vibrant, and Inspired Recipes Hardcover – May 7, 1994


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The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean: 215 Healthy, Vibrant, and Inspired Recipes + The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook + Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (May 7, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060166517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060166519
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 8.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Paula Wolfert is one of the first food writers to acknowledge the importance of Mediterranean cuisine. During a five-year journey that encompassed parts of the Balkans, Turkey, Syria and Greece, she collected a myriad of recipes from native cooks that are easily adaptable to American kitchens. The diet of the region depends upon grains, legumes, vegetables and nuts--perfect for the health conscious--and lends itself to recipes such as pumpkin kibbeh stuffed with spinach, chick peas and walnuts and nettle cheese pie. Wolfert is careful to provide special advice to ensure smooth preparation. The book won both the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the International Category, and the 1995 James Beard Award in the International Category.

From Publishers Weekly

Food fads may come and go, but meanwhile Wolfert ( Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco ) runs off to some little-documented area of the world and puts it on the (American) culinary map. One of the first food writers to recognize the importance of Mediterranean cuisines, she turns now to the Eastern Mediterranean. Encompassing portions of the Balkans, Turkey, Syria and Greece, the diet of the region depends on grains, legumes, vegetables and nuts, while avoiding meat or using it in small portions. True, this style of cooking is ideal for Americans obsessed with the Food Pyramid dietary guidelines, but Wolfert does not belabor the point. Not only does she offer wholesome recipes easily adaptable to American homes, but she also includes some of the more unusual preparations. A Macedonian nettle and cheese pie is so delicious, she claims, that Wolfert began growing the prickly greens herself. The traditional meaty kibbeh, usually a lump of ground lamb, she reinterprets as a pumpkin kibbeh, stuffed with spinach, chick peas and walnuts. Voices from native cooks, visited over a span of five years, add color, humor and realism to the melting pots of Macedonia, Turkey, the Levant and the Republic of Georgia. Wolfert is careful to add acknowledgements and extra tidbits of advice to help preparations go smoothly. Moreover, the general tone of the book is cheerful and encouraging. No matter how stinging the nettles, one is tempted to grab them firmly, rub them with kosher salt to remove the stings and blanch them for a pie.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Paula Wolfert is widely acknowledged as one of the premier food writers in America and the "queen of Mediterranean cooking." She writes a regular column in Food & Wine, alternating with Jacques Pepin and Marcella Hazan (she came in as Julia Child's replacement), and she is author of eight cookbooks, several of which have remained in print for upwards of 30 years. Her three most recent cookbooks, The Food of Morocco, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and The Cooking of Southwest France, 2nd edition, received glowing reviews.
Wolfert's writings have received numerous awards, including the Julia Child Award, the M.F.K. Fisher Award, the James Beard Award, the Cook's Magazine Platinum Plate Award, and the Perigueux Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Saveur, Fine Cooking, and Cook's Illustrated. In 2008, she was inducted into the Cookbook Hall of Fame by the James Beard Association.

Customer Reviews

The recipes are easy to follow.
R. Haglund
Second, it is probably one of the very best cookbooks for natives of this region transplanted to the United States.
B. Marold
I found the plethora of kibbeh recipes exciting and it was a real thrill to have them work on my first attempt.
R. Patterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 67 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth Paula Wolfert book I have reviewed and I find it better than the first three, even better than her important first book on Moroccan cuisine. It easily lands on my short list of best cookbooks dedicated to a specific regional cuisine. While Elizabeth David's book on Mediterranean cuisine maintains an important place in the literature of Mediterranean cuisine and Claudia Roden's book on the food of the Middle East improves the depth of coverage over David, Wolfert's book tops both of them in depth of coverage and may rival David's book for insights into the culinary wellsprings of the region.
Outside of writing on the Mediterranean and the Middle East, I find Wolfert's book to rival those of Diana Kennedy on Mexico and even match the quality, if not the seminal influence of Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. The main edge I would give to Child's book is that it succeeds in bringing a more limited topic into a bit clearer focus.
Wolfert does not cover the entire Eastern Mediterranean, and her book gains from the focus she put on the four areas she covers. These are:
Northern Greece (Macedonia and Thrace)
Turkey (Anatolia)
Georgia (bordering on the Black Sea, south of the Caucasus)
The Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel)
While Georgia does not border on the Mediterranean, Wolfert finds that the cuisine here is very similar to the other three regions she has chosen, which makes sense since Georgia borders on Turkey and probably shares much of the same agriculture as northern Greece.
Wolfert shares with Kennedy a love of her subject, which matches or surpasses that of even native writers.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Canfield on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my very favorite cookbooks. Though the recipes can often be very involved, they are so meticulously written and tested, it is difficult to fail with them. Additionally, as an anthropologist, Paula Wolfert puts the food into its cultural context, and she has done an excellent job of making the book readable and interesting. Because her recipes are always very true to the source, the techniques are often different from the instructions one might get from recipes written by restaurant chefs. These dishes come from homes and therefore can be cooked in homes. Everything I have ever cooked from this book has been not only interesting, but highly memorable. Her recipe for chicken stuffed with rice, lamb, and pine nuts is fantastic. This book is a must for serious home cooks.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Erica Eastley on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I truly love this book. I am a mother with two small children, which leaves me with little time for elaborate meals, and I am certainly not a serious cook or very experienced cook, but I have found this book to be very useful. There are a number of recipes that I have used dozens of times, and several more that I use on special occasions when I have more time to cook. There are also many "speciality" recipes that I have not had a chance to try, but it does not limit my enjoyment of this book. I have enjoyed trying new ingredients and replicating some of the dishes I tried while living in the Eastern Mediterranean. I especially appreciated the Georgian recipes since I did not know much about Georgia- and now we have the Georgian cheese bread pie often since my two-year-old loves it. I highly recommend this book!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I cannot agree with previous reviewer. This is the very best cookbook on this area on the market today. Great recipes and memorable prose. Author makes these cuisines come alive! This book won both the Julia Child and the James Beard awards...and both prizes were well reserved!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This cookbook does not give the reader/cook a chance to learn the basic techniques and tastes of the cuisine, but concentrates on particular recipes with lists of ingredients so esoteric that even when I was living in the eastern Mediterranean I was unable to prepare them. And because this is such a recipe-particular rather than general taste-and-technique cookbook, it is difficult to be flexible with the recipes in terms of substitution. This is a cookbook for the purist and not for the practical cook.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Beth DeRoos HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful cookbook for the serious cook who is interested in new recipes, other cultures and healthy food with a nice mix of history of a given recipe or dish. Ironically it was a negative review or slam, about the authors many (50) Kibbeh recipes that perked my interest and made me want the book.

So when I got the cookbook within a couple days of ordering it I went straight to the kibbeh section and had to smile, because it is so interesting because it reminded me of a favorite Italian cookbook with a lot of recipes for different meat balls, or a cookbook I have that has dozens of different types of hamburger recipes. It's awesome.

The book is big and the variety of recipes is vast, with some of my favorites that call for chickpeas, or roasted peppers, fish or chicken. Am a huge fan of pilaf and love her recipes. Love the Macedonian chickpeas, eggplants and tomatoes on page 252, which is easy to make and will make an impression for family and friends.
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