A new book has arrived. It saved an argument. For I’d been blethering to a chum, let’s call her Bonnie, and as always referendum matters cropped up. Our views remain opposing, for the moment. Recipes were a safer ground, for us both, and from the shelf was plucked Jerusalem.
As I open the pages I drool, shamed to be opening a tin of something for the last lunch before The Urchins go back to school. I stop firstly at pistachio soup, which looks every bit as easy as it does tasty.
The history of the book grabs you before the recipes. Two men from the same city met in London. They would have a hard job meeting back home, for they came from opposing sides of the divide – at least I can discuss referendum matters on a friendly basis across our current divide, so far.
But it is hotting up these days. Some of us have managed to give up our monkey-in-a-red-rosette habit; others are still holding their noses, shutting their eyes, clenching their cheeks or whatever. But back to the food.
Our hosts are Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, and their book on Jerusalem, of Jerusalem is very much east meets west in that troubled place, if it were possible. They bring us all the good bits from the souks and the markets and serve them up on a plate. Yotam is from the Jewish west, Sami from Muslim east. Twenty years after leaving they begin to reminisce, and the flavours and the smells of the city haunt them.
Together they embark on a self indulgent feasting on nostalgia. And the result is a fantastic volume, much more than a cookbook. Sorry I have to go now, I’ve just turned a page and found pan-fried sea bream with harissa & rose.
And the fish fingers might be ready….
Oh my goodness, marinated sweet & sour soup; whatever next? This volume is a Treasure Trove to grace any kitchen book shelf. Move over Nigella, I need to make some space. We might have some more recipe chat coming up.