cover image King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World

King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World

Joan Nathan. Knopf, $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-385-35114-0

In this, one of her best books to date, Nathan, a James Beard Award%E2%80%93winning author and authority on Jewish food, explores the origins and evolution of Jewish cuisine around the world. Nathan's comprehensive yet condensed history begins with King Solomon, who ruled a kingdom rich with diverse foods and cultures; follows traders and merchants as they traveled and settled along the Spice Routes; and explains how Sephardic cooking morphed into the more well-known Jewish food traditions of Eastern and Central Europe. The 170 recipes explain the cross-cultural embrace required of Jews as they moved around the globe, and include Syrian-Mexican chicken that incorporates both apricots and chipotle peppers and El Salvadoran latkes made with yucca and served with cilantro cream. Each recipe is prefaced with an engaging origin story that further helps explain the complex Jewish food story. Eastern Europe meets South America in a Brazilian-Belarusian fish recipe acquired by Nathan while in Recife, Brazil, for a wedding; T'beet is a medieval Iraqi Sabbath chicken dish cooked with spices, coconut, and rose petals; and shakshuka, which hales from Ottoman North Africa, is said to be what women made in the short time they had between when their lover left and their husband arrived home for a meal. This is a cookbook to be read and savored for its stories as much as its recipes. Nathan, with her passionate and unceasing search for Jewish cooking traditions, has made an important contribution to Jewish history and culture. (Apr.)