These days we have such an abundance of on-line resources that one could ask – why books? And – why cookbooks in particular? This is not question I ask myself ever. I LOVE books. And, I love cookbooks.
At By now, not for recipes themselves, and not even for ideas I pick up to start a new dish, but I love to read them. Each book tells a story about the author, the community, its traditions, and sometimes, even gives great historical overviews of the communities and places that no-one, unfortunately, will ever be able to see again.
Aromas of Aleppo is one of these books. I have made a few dishes from it, mostly unfamiliar to me before, but the most interesting part of it is the history of the community of Aleppo that is really drawing me in every time. The clothes, the old pictures, the specific traditions of the community – I can read and reread about that over a Shabbat. I will never be able to see Aleppo much as most of the people of this world, but I have read about it in a few books including one of my favorites, The Aleppo Codex, inspired by the author of the Aromas, Poopa Dweck.
There is one more amazing cookbook that I posses. It is not printed, it’s digital, although I know that it’s now available on Amazon. It is not elaborate, but the one you will, probably never forget. I am not sure if I will be cooking from it, but for sure I will come back to it more than once.
Recently, I got my hands on another book that talks more about the community than gives recipes, although it does give plenty of them. Bone Soup and Flipped Bread: The Yemenite Jewish Kitchen really paints a history and traditions of the Yemenite community with its unique food-ways. It is such a pleasure to learn why soups and breads, for example are the major staples of a table and which wedding beautiful customs were brought to Israel by the members of this ancient part of the Jewish people.
Eating Delaney talks about another community – the Jewish community that is although quite young in Jewish time, is already almost extinct – that of the Lower East Side of New York. It’s a nostalgia at its best as one can still try and create those knishes, bialis, kasha-varnechkes dishes at home wherever one has a kitchen and desire for cooking Jewish food. I do it all the time.