The Essential Mediterranean
How Regional Cooks Transform Key Ingredients Into the World's Favorite CuisinesBook - 2003
With The Essential Mediterranean, Nancy Harmon Jenkins continues her lifelong exploration of Mediterranean food -- how it is grown, prepared, and shared around the table. In her latest book, Ms. Jenkins introduces cooks and readers to a cluster of core ingredients and foodways that are fundamental to all of the Mediterranean's diverse cuisines. She shows how the Mediterranean attitude toward food -- a combination of respect, integrity, enthusiasm, and sheer joy -- can be cultivated across the Atlantic.
In twelve informative and captivating chapters, the author focuses on the core ingredients common to the diverse cuisines of the region: salt, wine and vinegar, pasta and couscous, bread, olive oil, Old World legumes, New World peppers and tomatoes, dairy products, the family pig, and the resources of the sea. In each chapter she travels to a different corner of the Inner Sea to describe how and why these essential ingredients are obtained, what determines their quality, and where they fit in local cuisines.
Each chapter draws on history and ethnography as much as on the lives of Mediterranean people today. Readers will delight in Majid Mahjoub, the colorful Tunisian "Shakespeare of olive oil," and commiserate with Provencal cheese maker Yves van Weddingen as he struggles to maintain his standards in the face of bureaucratic demands. Home cooks will garner a new appreciation of high-quality Spanish jamon de bellota as they follow the Trigo family through the annual winter ritual of transforming the family pig into hams and sausages.
More than 170 contemporary, accessible recipes, simple to reproduce at home, bring the foods and the regions alive, while additional chapters include basic procedures and staples, as well as a helpful guide to ingredient sources.
The Essential Mediterranean gets to the heart of this world, celebrating its diverse food cultures and the shared ingredients that are the essence of these remarkable cuisines.