From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This nutritionally sound, flavor-savvy cookbook, first published in 1994, was arguably ahead of its time—at least for American readers. Of course, a wave of American dieters and nutritionists have since come to advocate Mediterranean eating habits, including a largely plant-based diet with modest amounts of proteins and plenty of good fats. Jenkins's updated and revised version will surely reach a wider audience. Jenkins, an American who has lived in Italy, France, Lebanon, Cyprus and Spain, zeros in on the dietary patterns that link these nations. Yet Jenkins's approach is hardly prescriptive; she prefers to gently encourage good habits rather than lay out a daily regime. The 250 recipes are largely traditional dishes, some of which may be novel to her readership, such as Provençal chickpea soup; Moroccan lamb tagine with apricots; and kourabiedes, Greek butter almond cookies. Jenkins has removed the nutritional data from the previous edition, which allows for a greater emphasis on the food itself. Jenkins's recipes are reliable, and though dishes like pizza made from scratch require extra time and effort, the payoff is in the slow food, Mediterranean approach: an overall respect and enjoyment for what we eat that translates into greater health. Jenkins is an effective ambassador for this way of thinking about food, and her cookbook is a wonderful resource for anyone considering it. (Dec.)
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In the decade since Jenkins first revealed the Mediterranean diet’s virtues, nutritional theory has repeatedly validated its benefits. The Mediterranean’s reliance on breads and pastas, fresh vegetables, olive oils, minimal but high-quality meat, and few sweets mark it a heart-healthy regimen. Complementing Italy’s pastas, Spain’s tapas have won an American audience. These little plates, meant for preprandial grazing, present diners a wide variety of options. Tapas help assuage hunger with multiple intense flavors and textures. Eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean offer their own delights with Turkish, Lebanese, and Moroccan dishes, and Jenkins includes a few examples. Ever-increasing availability of ethnic foods and more-demanding consumers have made many Mediterranean staples and fresh foods available in mainstream American groceries to an unprecedented degree. Oddly, Jenkins barely mentions the role of wine, considered by many a nutritionally important part of this diet. Includes bibliography. --Mark Knoblauch
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