Regular readers will know already my devotion to the wonderful Evelyn Rose (of blessed memory). Her recipes are clear, foolproof, and delicious, and her vast body of work covers Jewish cuisines from around the globe. This is perhaps best exemplified in her magnum opus, The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook, of which I have not one, but two well-used (and stained and splattered) copies.
TNCIJCB contains over 1000 recipes, I learned recently, when I read the foreword to 100 Best Jewish Recipes – an edited selection curated by Evelyn Rose’s daughter, Judi. And on this basis, I did wonder what the point of this new book was – after all, wouldn’t you be better simply buying the original and getting significantly more recipes for your money?
The answer is no, and yes. Or rather, it depends.
100 Best Jewish Recipes is a far more aesthetically pleasing book than TNCIJCB. It has a clean, modern layout that I must admit is much easier to read than the densely typeset columns of TNCIJCB. The photography is also in a different league. The pictures are bright, artfully composed, and frankly, mouthwatering! My only complaint is that there aren’t more of them, as many of the recipes are un-illustrated.
Looking at the way the recipes are grouped into chapters, it strikes me that this book may not be intended for a Jewish audience at all, but rather for interested cooks from a variety of backgrounds, who would buy this in the same way that they might buy a book of Indian or Caribbean recipes. For this audience, I expect it hits the spot quite nicely – a carefully chosen selection of brilliant, delicious recipes, including familiar Ashkenazi classics like chicken soup, latkes and challah, but also moving into territory perhaps not traditionally associated with Jewish food. Examples in this latter category include Egyptian-Jewish stuffed aubergines, Greek-Jewish lamb fricassee, and Syrian cheese puffs.
This book may also be a good choice for a Jewish cook with limited experience, who might find TNCIJCB with its 1000 recipes somewhat overwhelming. Start with this, and graduate to the ‘big book’ later 🙂
And if you’re looking for a beautiful cook book to give as a present to a foodie friend, this would be a terrific choice. My shelves are lined with umpteen gifted recipe books, and I think I can say with some authority that this ranks higher than many of them. It is niche, but not too niche, so any keen cook could find something in here that appealed to them.
In conclusion, I will say this – if 100 Best Jewish Recipes proves one thing, it is that Evelyn Rose’s brilliant recipes have stood the test of time. The Complete International Jewish Cookery Book was first published in 1976 (I think), but these dishes look as fresh, delicious, and up-to-the-minute now as they ever did. Whatever the format or edition, I predict we’ll be using Evelyn’s recipes for many, many years to come.
100 Best Jewish Recipes: Modern Classics, from Everyday Meals to Food for Special Occasions is published by Pavillion, RRP £16.99.
I was sent a complimentary copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own.
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