Cookbook Review - Mediterranean Cookery - Cooking Index
Author: Claudia Roden
Claudia Roden's Mediterranean Cookery has been sitting on my bookshelf for a good eight years and yet it's spine is hardly creased. That's normally a bad sign and as I sit down to write this review I wonder whether I should perhaps have used it more.
Why don't I use it more frequently? I love Mediterraean food and frequently cook dishes from the region at home.
Perhaps the first reason is that I find this book slightly irritating. Perhaps this is because it takes until page 75 to produce the first recipe, the earlier pages having been taken up with an account of Roden's childhood in Egypt and then a good length essay on the history of the Mediterranean with some of it relevant to the culinary development of the region, followed by lengthy descriptions of Mediterranean ingredients. Or perhaps it is because it is so cumbersome and difficult to use in a kitchen. A 387 page paperback book is just too large to comfortably sit on a worksurface or take to bed for a night time culinary companion. Or maybe it is because it is so badly laid out with recipes spilling throught the pages in a jumbled way that makes me think the editor just wanted to knock the paperback edition out as quickly as possible and get on with his or her life.
Those gripes aside, there are plenty of recipes that look interesting and I would cook. The region majors on simple dishes prepared with good quality ingredients and dishes like Shallots in Red Wine, Cheese Dumplings with Sauteed Red Peppers, Gazpacho, Artichokes with Broad Beans and Lamb with Chestnuts all appeal.
Mediterranean Cookery is divided into the following sections:
Altogether the recipes are fine but the book is let down by its presentation and size. It also feels slightly dated (which I guess it is, being two decades old) and would not be my first choice for books about Mediterranean cookery.
Penguin BBC Books, 1987, £7.99, 387 pages (paperback)
Spencer Jackson (12 June 2007)