The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden: cookbook review

Review
 
The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
Cookbook

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden is a classic book thoroughly deserving its place in the pantheon of great cookbooks.
This lengthy tome is the result of fifteen years of painstaking research by author Claudia Roden. Jewish food from Morocco, Europe, the Middle East, Iran, India and even as far as China is surveyed and chronicled.
The book opens with a survey of Jewish dietary laws and then provides an historical context within which Jewish food can be viewed.
The rest of the book contains the recipes which are divided into two major sections, one of which described Ashkenazi food (the peasant food of Eastern Europe) and the other Shephardi food (the food of the Mediterranean and Oriental Jews).
Many of the Ashkenazi recipes are simple and use cheap ingredients as would be expected of peasant food. But the results are nevertheless very appealing. The recipe for beef stew and white beans (based on brisket and haricot beans) is a delicious, deeply-flavoured one pot dish that requires very little attention during the three hours it sits on top of the stove.
There are many threads through this book you can explore. For example, we have spent many enjoyable hours reading the discourses about dumplings from different communities. There are stories of Roden's own experiences with knaidlachs, kobeba and kreplach and her visit to a tiny restaurant in Jerusalem to sample some very rustic kobeba variations.
There is, of course, a range of recipes and a background article on the famous chicken soup and its many variations.
This is a book to be treasured. It is a major work with a deep and satisfying explanation of the context of the food.
 
     
   
     


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