Book review – Jerusalem

09 November 2012
Book review – Jerusalem

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Ebury Press, £27
ISBN 978-0091943745

There is much to appreciate within the British Isles, but we also have a rich and ancient tradition in trading and importing from afar, goods and spices and foods to dazzle and amaze. In their latest book, Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi write with great enthusiasm about the dishes that delighted them as children growing up in the Middle East and continue to delight them today.

Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year, Tamimi in the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. Nearly 30 years later they met in London, and discovered they shared a language, a history, and a love of great food, which led them to launch the Ottolenghi group of restaurants with Tamimi as head chef.

Together they have achieved a splendid success from cooking and writing about foods that delight and please, both ravishing to look at and equally pleasurable to eat.

Browsing contentedly through this good book, I took great glee in finding a recipe for butternut squash and tahini spread. It is both delicious to eat and great for helping to plough through the great heaps of squash that appear in vast quantities at this time of year.

While throughout the book bows to tradition, there is also a healthy respect for living in a contemporary time where boundaries are effortlessly and charmingly blurred. Dishes from all corners of the Mediterranean - reflecting Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Christian and Armenian communities - were brought to Jerusalem through the ages, reflecting its significant position for trade and commerce, war and, of course, the history of Christianity.

Ottolenghi and Tamimi tell many charming stories behind the dishes that feature in the book. They playfully introduce Jerusalem as a working city with a great tradition for food and cooking, wholeheartedly believing that peace and harmony will be achieved at table, particularly when hummus is served. It is a happy thought, which is appropriate for such a happy book.

By Jeremy Lee, head chef, Quo Vadis, London

If you like this, you might like these:

â- Plenty Yotam Ottolenghi
â- Ottolenghi: The Cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

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