Ok, so unless you’ve lived under a culinary rock, you’ve heard something about our September Cook the Books choice, Jerusalem: A Cookbook by chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The well-respected London-based chefs/authors were both born and raised in Jerusalem – Ottolenghi in the Jewish west side and Tamimi on the Arab east side. Sounds interesting already, right?
The cookbook is centered in Jerusalem, a place of full of both richness: diversity, energy, and passion, as well as the difficulties of intense political & religious strife. It is a city of countless intersecting cultures (and subcultures) and long culinary traditions. In the introduction, the authors name some of the varied cultures, each with food histories of their own, that come together to create what has become local, Jerusalem cuisine. In studying the vast food traditions, what is clear is the cross-cultural unifying themes: the presence of chopped tomatoes & cucumbers, variations of stuffed vegetables, pickled vegetables, baked pastries, olive oil, lemon juice, and the use of local, seasonal ingredients unite many of the food cultures.
Jerusalem was named cookbook of the year and has been written about in the New York Times (a quick google search will show you it has been written about on pretty much all major food websites). There have been author interviews on All Things Considered on NPR (give it a listen!). Cookbook challenges and the corresponding Facebook page that follow along with the virtual cooking group. Basically, the cookbook Jerusalem is everywhere.
We chose Jerusalem for September, when Seattle has it’s biggest month of local produce that serve as the backbone for the cookbook: eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, plums, peaches, peppers and more. Not necessarily from my garden. With how my summer has gone, not much happening out there other than plums. But no worries. The farmer’s market and PCC will keep me in the goods I need. I’m looking forward to Roasted eggplant (with fried onion & chopped lemon), fattoush, various herb salads, A’ja, Shakshuka, Sabih, Mejadra, Kofta b’siniyah, and so, so much more. I can’t wait to incorporate za’atar, sumac, baharat, and harissa into my repertoire.
Have you cooked from Jerusalem before? What did you make? We can’t wait to see what you choose! As usual, send us your link toward the end of the month and we’ll include you in the monthly wrap up.
On Monday or Tuesday, Briggs should have the August Wrap-Up posted, so check in there and see what folks made from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. I made quite a few things, so there is another ice cream related post coming from me too.