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

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France
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  • Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook
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  • 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)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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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 (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a gem of a cookbook; thoroughly researched - and thoroughly delicious. Very happy to have this book as part of my cookbook collection.

If you are looking for a new approach to kosher cooking - for instance, seeking to re-invent some of the Eastern European classics that predominate Jewish cooking in the US - this book should prove to be inspired. This is, in part, due to the fact there is a larger Sephardic presence in many of the recipes presented. However, given that the village of Ashkenaz is in Alsace, France, the book does demonstrate that the cooking descent of European-descended Jew is richer than most imagine.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I expected a less esoteric and chatty cookbook.
The ingredients are expensive and also some of them are not easy to come by. However, there are a few that used more "everyday" ingredients...a quiche and a stuffed vegetable receipe that are truely outstanding.

A lot of the book is centered on the people (friends, relatives and acquaintances) that the author met, and their relationship to a particular receipe. I'm sorry, but for me, this is a lot of blah, blah, blah.

My advice is take it out of the library, copy the recepies that you like, and don't waste your money on this book.
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