By Clifford A. Wright
"Mediterranean cuisine," the buzzword of choice in today's trendiest restaurants, is much bandied about but little understood. It refers not to a single style of cooking, as many think, but rather to a broad spectrum of regional cuisines that utilize common ingredients (the "shared trinity" of olive oil, wheat, and the vine) and have in common especially rich historical roots.
Now the multifaceted cuisines of the Mediterranean and the complex cultures that have nurtured them for centuries are examined in loving detail by Clifford A. Wright in A Mediterranean Feast. In a work both erudite and compelling, Wright traces the factors that shaped the way Mediterranean cultures eat—geography, climate, agriculture, economics, politics, trade, and sociological developments. He focuses on the years from the end of the Roman Empire in the fifth century to the start of the modem era around 1700, a period marked by agricultural revolutions, the growth of cities and trade, the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and the Renaissance—along with wars, plagues, and the never-ending fight against famine and hunger.
The grandeur of the contemporary Mediterranean and its culinary riches, Wright tells us, is in reality a late twentieth-century development based on centuries of evolution. Until relatively recently the picture of the Mediterranean was one of poverty and destitution." How the people of the region overcame these considerable obstacles is the fascinating tale that unfolds on the pages of A Mediterranean Feast.
"This is a book of food, and a book about food," Wright begins, "but it is also a book about food in history, and about history. It attempts to challenge some notions we have about the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it developed."
A Mediterranean Feast's recipes are interwoven among the stories of the cultures from which they come. Replete with informative sidebars, period artwork, and maps, it will please not only the curious cook but the armchair traveler and history buff as well.
Just some of the scrumptious recipes to be found in A Mediterranean Feast:
from Croatia and the Dalmatian coast:
from the Islands:
from the Middle East:
from North Africa:
Fish stews from cuisines around the Mediterranean are featured in A Mediterranean Feast as well, as are breads from throughout the region.
Clifford A. Wright is a cookbook author, food writer, and research scholar specializing in the cuisines of the Mediterranean. He is the author of six cookbooks and writes frequently for Saveur, Gourmet, Fine Cooking, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine magazines. Transplanted from the Boston area, he now lives in Santa Monica, California.
A Mediterranean Feast
The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines
of the Mediterranean, from the Merchants of
Venice to the Barbary Corsairs,
with More Than 500 Recipes
By Clifford A. Wright
William Morrow & Co., November, 1999
Information provided by the publisher.
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