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The Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors D'Oeuvre, Meze, and More (Non) Paperback – September 26, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Wright continues his exploration of the Mediterranean region (after Mediterranean Vegetables and A Mediterranean Feast) with this investigation of tapas, antipasti, meze and whatever else one might call small dishes that start a meal. The recipes-and there are a generous 500 included-are uniformly excellent, but sometimes Wright's commitment to authenticity leads to too much exotica (Curried Cucumber and Lamb Tongue Skewers, Vols-au-Vent Stuffed with Veal Sweetbreads and Black Truffles), with too little space dedicated to clever but more accessible tidbits such as Spinach with Garlic Yogurt on Fried Arabic Bread and Rolled Yogurt Balls. Numerous recipes, such as Tunisian Lamb, Brain, and Fried Potato Frittata with Cheeses and Baby Octopus in Piquant Sauce call for hard-to-locate ingredients. Chapters are organized by type of dish, with two chapters dedicated to fried foods: the one on fried turnovers opens with four recipes for briks (North African pastries). Another chapter on cheese-based foods (despite Wright's earlier insistence that cheese "is too rich and heavy" to make a good starter) includes Taleggio Cheese and Buckwheat Flour Fritters from Lombardy. Although Wright provides copious information in headnotes and sidebars, there is one integral thing lacking. A long list of menus for parties of various types and an introduction that details the history of eating small dishes before a larger meal are helpful, but there is no indication of how to figure portion sizes when serving items such as Pizza Margherita, Stockfish, Fava Bean, and Potato Stew from Liguria and Polenta with Porcini Mushrooms as entrees.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard/KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for A Mediterranean Feast (William Morrow), which was also a finalist for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook of the Year award that same year. He is the author of fourteen books, twelve of which are cookbooks. Wright's articles on food and cuisine have appeared in Gourmet, Bon App\u00e9tit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and other magazines. He is a contributing editor to ZesterDaily.com. As an independent researcher, Wright wrote the food entries for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and has published scholarly articles on food in peer-reviewed journals such as Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, Food and Foodways, and Gastronomica. Wright has also lectured on food at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, Boston University, Georgetown University, Davidson College in North Carolina, Loyola Marymount University, South Dakota State University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Culinary Institute of America, among other institutions. As a cooking teacher, he has taught cooking classes at the Central Market cooking schools in Texas, the Rhode Island School of Design, Institute for Culinary Education in New York, Sur la Table, and other cooking schools around the United States. His website www.CliffordAWright.com is one of the most-visited sites for people interested in Mediterranean foods. In 2009 he launched the Venice Cooking School (www.VeniceCookingSchool.com) with Martha Rose Shulman in Los Angeles, California. He lives in Santa Monica, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
I also found the organization and contents difficult to follow (for instance, instead of being organized by "fish, grains, veggies, meat, etc" they table of contents goes by "saucy little dishes; salads and other cold vegetable dishes; seafood salads and platters; fried tidbits; rolls-ups and wraps", etc.) It's hard to follow, and not just because of the near-lack of pictures. Once again, if you're an advanced cook, you probably don't need pictures; as for the rest of us.....
What you will love about this book if you ARE an advanced gourmet cook is that the author scribbles little informative histories of the foods and regions in the margins. Also, he clearly knows his French (AN OVERWHELMING amount of French terms, and other foreign food words that further complicate just the process of reading the recipes; although it IS fascinating and he explains their origins, etc).
This is not a cookbook you can quickly scan for a 25minute recipe after work. If you enjoy spending lots of time with you cookbooks, get it! If not, I recommend this book instead: 500 Mediterranean Dishes (500 Cooking Series). 500 Mediterranean Dishes (500 Cooking Series (Sellers)) (500 Cooking (Sellers))
I confess that this type of writing by a culinary scholar / journalist writing about regional cuisines of the past and present is just about my favorite kind of food writing. Aside from the fact that these people are typically better writers than chefs, I believe this content has a cachet about it similar to what people say of antiques. What has survived from the past is generally better than what is produced today because there is so much more historical product than there is of contemporary product. Things typically survive because they are good.
Wright's book fits this expectation to a tee. For $22 list price, one gets over 500 recipes from all around the Mediterranean. This collection is so good, one could easily retire your Martha Stewart and Ina Garten books on appetizer menus and have this take their place.
In spite of the superficial similarity in the various small dishes in the book, there is a significant difference between antipasti and hors d'oeuvres, which accompany a large meal, tapas, which often consist of a meal in themselves to accompany afternoon drinking and conversation, and meze, which, in several countries comprise a large meal in itself, based on a lot of little dishes. There are family resemblences between the various little dish cuisines of the Mediterranean but, except for the presence of olives and olive oil, there is probably no common heritage to which all can be traced. Meze dishes can be traced to Arab cuisine. The word appears to be originally from Turkey. Hors d'oeuvre and antipasti are much more recent, emerging in French and Italian cuisines over the last 150 years. Tapas may be traceable to the period of the Moorish occupation of Spain, even though both Wright and Diane Kochalis, an authority on Greek cuisine agree that tapas and (Greek) mezes are different things.
All this very interesting historical stuff simply makes the excellent collection of recipes just that much more interesting. The books contents are divided into sixteen (16) types of dishes such as Bread Snacks, Dips, Cheese, Eggy stuff, Saucy Meats, Saucy Veges, Stuffed Vegetables, Salads, Pastries, Pizzas, Fried Turnovers, Fried Tidbits, Wraps, Seafood Salads, Grilled Food, and Pickles and Marinades. This is followed by two chapters of components recipes. One for Sauces and Spice Mixes and one for Doughs and Batters. The book concludes with an extensive list of Party Menus.
As you may expect, there are some requirements for uncommon ingredients, mostly cheeses of Greece and North Africa plus spice mixes, including the ever elusive Aleppo pepper. Substitutions from the world of Italian cheeses are almost always possible, but part of the fun is to get the read deal. Internet sources are, of course, provided.
In this very large book, I found only one questionable item, where the author specifies fresh plum tomatos or tomato puree to build tomato sauces. On the strength of the opinion of Mario Batali, I would change this to always using canned whole tomatoes.
This book will stay in my library long after others have been carted off the the library's book sale.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas,
Hors d'oeuvre, Meze and More
By Clifford A.Read more