The best new cookbooks
Hungry for food books? Time Out rounds up the best of the bunch.
The Food of Morocco
Paula Wolfert, Bloomsbury, £35
The best way to experience real Moroccan food is to visit Morocco. Even then, without a good guide, you run the risk of eating in overpriced tourist traps, as I’ve had to on previous visits. But on a good cookery course, such as the excellent ones organised via Boutique Souk, you can see, smell and touch the proper ingredients as they are bought by Moroccans: the distinctively pungent local cumin, the many versions of the ras el hanout spice mix. You can also discover for yourself that parsley and coriander leaves are sold mixed and used together in the Marrakech kitchen.
If you’re based in the UK, the best way to recreate the excitement and the thrill of the souk kitchen is to cook at home, using a good cookbook. I know of none better than this just-published volume by the Moroccan food expert and writer Paula Wolfert [www.paula-wolfert.com]. Wolfert has written extensively about Morocco for the last four decades, and is one of the most acclaimed cookery writers based in the US.
This beautifully produced book, with evocative photography and very pleasing design, represents the best of Wolfert’s knowledge condensed for the keen, but not necessarily expert, cook.
Classic methods, dishes and spice mixes are explained with great clarity, from the fish marinade charmoula to tagines. Importantly, the recipes result in dishes evocative of the real Morocco. The kefta tagine I prepared, although requiring a score of ingredients, was relatively quick to make for such pleasing results. Other dishes, such as aubergine stuffed with lamb’s brains, are also there for the chef who likes more of a challenge.
This is a cookery book written by someone who has deep knowledge of the subject, gained by both living there and revisiting many times for research over the course of a lifetime. Unlike many current ‘travel’ food books, the author does not put herself centre-stage; this a book where Morocco is the guiding star. If this book doesn’t inspire you to try a cooking holiday in Morocco, I don’t know what will.
Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2195: September 13-19 2012