Jerusalem was once depicted as the centre of the universe surrounded by three continents, Evropa, Asia and Africa. However despite this great depiction Jerusalem is not a great metropolis. It has gained importance not through anything material but through faith, learning, devotion and fanaticism.

Jerusalem’s vibrant and complex food stems from its being in the centre of Europe, Asia and Africa. These influences are clearly seen in the ingredients used as well as flavour combinations found in Jerusalem cuisine.

The authors, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, both grew up in Jerusalem. Yotam from the Jewish West and Sami from the Muslim East. It was however many years later in London when these two culinary minds met. Through their passion for food and parallel histories they became close friends and then business partners.

The introduction of Jerusalem is focused more on the rich and exciting history of Jerusalem as a whole to give one a greater understanding of its culinary influences. Jerusalem is an intricate mosaic of cultures and sub-cultures, it is therefore simple for one to say that Jerusalem does not have its very own cuisine. However if one takes a look at the greater picture one will find that there are some typical elements that are commonly found in most local cuisines and are found throughout the city. For example the use of chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab salad is found in every household. Stuffed vegetables with rice or rice and meat also appear on almost every dinner table, as does an array of pickled vegetables.

Strong emphasis is placed on the importance of flavours and textures as Yotam states “Food is a basic, hedonistic pleasure, a sensual instinct we all share and revel in.”

Each recipe is introduced by both Yotam and Sami as they explain how they view each dish, as well providing alternatives and a brief history of where the dish came from. Both possess an incredible sense of humour which makes reading each introduction a pleasurable experience as well as easing the reader into the recipe and getting them excited to begin preparing the chosen dish.

Each recipe is clearly laid out and easy to follow, many accompanied by stunning pictures of dishes. This recipe book is a must have for those looking to experience new cultures through food. It is also a perfect recipe book for those who host regular dinner parties as many of the recipes within are simple yet hold a certain wow factor in each and every one.

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