THE SCENT OF ORANGE BLOSSOMS: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Ten Speed, $24.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-58008-269-3
Morse, author of eight cookbooks, teams up with Mamane, a resident of Morocco's "cultural capital" Fez, to bring the unique cuisine of Moroccan Sephardic Jews to the American table. When Spanish Jews fleeing the Inquisition settled in Morocco, they combined culinary elements of the three cultures into a vibrant new one. The dishes that resulted follow the traditions and biblical prohibitions of the Sephardim, and marry together foods available in Morocco along with ingredients and culinary refinements brought from Spain. The opening chapter describes the basic ingredients and methods, and the recipes that follow cover everything from soups to meat, breads to fish, and desserts to drinks. From the Chicken with Onions, which uses saffron and ginger, to the Meatballs in Cinnamon-Onion Sauce, the dishes, redolent with spices, incorporate the exotic flavors of a rich tradition. Descriptions accompanying the recipes share cultural details: the Lentil and Garbanzo Bean Soup, for example, is used by Muslims to break fasts during Ramadan and by Sephardim to do the same after Yom Kippur. Also interspersed throughout are letters from mothers to their daughters recounting special events and personal reminiscences of Moroccan Sephardic life in communities and in kitchens. These welcome additions to the recipes provide charming pictures of a lifestyle and culture, and make this volume as enjoyable to read as it is to cook from.
Reviewed on: 11/19/2001