Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share

Paula Wolfert, Author . Wiley $34.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-76-457633-1

Beginning with a simple premise—“Food tastes better cooked in clay”—this single-themed cookbook is an illuminating treatise on a technique that's used throughout the Mediterranean but is still relatively obscure in U.S. kitchens. James Beard Award–winner Wolfert (The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen ; The Cooking of Southwest France ), who has studied and written about the region's cuisine for decades, has become passionate about earthenware pots. Wolfert claims that all food cooked in unglazed vessels has an earthy sweetness, and that when the vessel is dedicated to a certain food, its porous surface gains a seasoning or “memory” that enhances the flavor. Because these same characteristics make clay pots tricky to care for, Wolfert provides tips for cleaning and safety as well as plenty of sources for more information. What these dishes have in common is that they can be prepared, baked and brought to the table in their respective dishes—be it in the Spanish cazeula (orange-glazed pork belly), the Moroccan tagine (fish tagine with tomatoes, olives and preserved lemon) or the Turkish guvec (summer lamb and vegetable guvec). Wolfert is a true cook's author, and as her use of obscure ingredients (dried eggplant, sweet and sour plums, argan oil) and colorful anecdotes/additional ideas (say, grilling over a flowerpot) illustrate, this book is not for the casual home cook. But for those willing to tackle them, Wolfert's clay pot dishes do indeed merit the hype. Photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/07/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-470-59589-3
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