Upon the recommendation of my brother, I finally bought Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi with some of my graduation money (Thanks Grammy and Grandad). They are two world class chefs who cook at Ottolenghi in London. Their cookbook is a passionate journey through the culinary delights of Jerusalem. How the food has evolved and developed from the unique mixture of people in the 3000 year old city. I have thoroughly enjoyed perusing its pages and been inspired by the recipes that are so different from my routine cooking. Thus, in order to expand and develop my culinary skills in the kitchen, I have decided to cook through Jerusalem A Cookbook this summer.
Having grown up on hearty southern food in Texas and spicy green chile in New Mexico, I know very little about eastern Mediterranean cooking. What we know as Mediterranean is the U.S. is the quick Italian pastas and Greek Salads available at any “good” Mediterranean restaurant or straight from your freezer. This is such a shame. However, true Jerusalem cooking is the use of fresh spices such as sumac (a peppery lemon flavored berry), cardamom, and saffron. It is the wide variety of yogurt mixtures (not your ordinary supermarket Tzatziki), vegetables, and meats used in the dishes . Most importantly, it is the use of methods perfected over the centuries.
The history behind each recipe has really drawn me to the book. One dish may have 15 different names depending on the ethnic background and what part of the city of Jerusalem it originates from. The debates behind the origin of each dish and the love put into each dish inspire me to attempt their creation. Even though I have very little experience in this realm of the culinary world, I cannot wait to get started.
Over the summer I hope to gradually transform my New Mexico kitchen into a window to the Mediterranean lifestyle and culture. These will not be your 30 minute meals, but rather a labor of love. I am so excited to cook through this book with you all. I don’t know what will be harder: finding the ingredients or getting my family to try my experiments. By all means, it is going to be quite a summer.
The Craving Conn
n. The apparent rising of the sun over the horizon
The Conn's definition
n. The best part of the day when light first appears in the world and darkness is no more.