by Yotem Ottolenghi
Ten Speed Press, 2012. 318 pgs. Nonfiction.
Yotem Ottolenghi interweaves traditional recipes from all quarters of Jerusalem with personal stories and fascinating information about the city. Essential for a modern cookbook, Jerusalem includes gorgeous matte photographs of the food set in traditional cookery, and of the city itself. Readers will find familiar, yet perfected, recipes for falafel and hummus and more surprising suggestions for insane things to do with ground lamb and dried chickpeas. In fact, all of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are wonderful, and you can always spot them by their characteristic pillowy covers.
I am, self-admittedly, a cookbook snob. I prefer my cookbooks to be like my literature: philosophic with sparse, evocative language and thin on plot. If this doesn’t sound like any cookbook you’ve looked at, it's probably because you’ve never read one cover-to-cover: a habit I highly recommend. A cookbook with a lot of theory and back-story not only provides better reading, but also fits nicely into my daily cooking by providing ideas and structures rather than one-off gourmet recipes. Jerusalem is an excellent example of a readable, practical cookbook.