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

A Mediterranean Feast  
"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 Spain:

  • Bull Stew (made with oxtails) and Cordoban-Style Rice with Chicken, Veal, Rabbit, and Pork from Andalusia
  • Rice with Salt Cod and Manchego Cheese from Catalonia
  • Poached Eggs Valencia Style and Valencian Goat Stew from the Hills

from France:

  • from the Languedoc region, not only the famous Cassoulet and Confit de Canard, but also Languedocian-Style Snails in Puff Pastry
  • from Provence, Braised Veal in the Style of the Camargue and Spit-Roasted Quail Wrapped in Grape Leaves

from Italy:

  • Cabbage Soup from Tuscany and Genoese-Style Minestrone
  • Venetian-Style Cuttlefish in Black Sauce and Courtesan's Boiled Beef from Veneto
  • Risotto with Lobster from Friuli
  • Duck, Sausage, and Chestnut Stew from Lombardy
  • Pirate-Style Spaghetti (a spicy octopus preparation) from Lazio
  • Ricotta Fritters from Emilia-Romagna
  • Sicilian Cart Driver's Rigatoni and Cannoli and Sardinian Roast Suckling Pig

from Croatia and the Dalmatian coast:

  • Broccoli Crêpes and Zagreb-Style Baked Mushrooms and Macaroni from Croatia
  • Dalmatian-Style Potato and Sheep's Cheese Casserole and Dalmatian-Style Pork Meatballs

from Greece:

  • Spit-Roasted Lamb Loin
  • Pork and Celery with Avgolemono Sauce
  • Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese

from the Islands:

  • Cypriot Braised Pork with Coriander Seeds and Red Wine
  • Meat Pie from Crete
  • Corfu-Style Pasta with Veal Sauce
  • Baked Omelette from Rhodes

from Turkey:

  • Sultan's Delight (rich eggplant casserole) and The Imam Fainted (eggplant stuffed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes)
  • Turkish Wontons with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce and Cayenne Butter
  • Turkish Shish Kebab and Tiny Kebabs with Cumin, along with Armenian Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs, Arabic Grilled Chicken Kebabs, and Egyptian Fish Kebabs

from the Middle East:

  • Syrian Spiced Fish and Lentils with Lemon
  • Okra Stew and Eggplant and Tahini purée from Lebanon
  • A Bedoum Lamb and Rice Feast Dish prepared to celebrate joyous occasions by Palestinian and Jordanian Bedoums
  • from throughout the Arab Levant, Stuffed Grape Leaves with Stuffed Zucchini, Rice and Lentil Pilaf Macaroni with Yogurt, and several couscous dishes
  • from Egypt:

    • Alexandria-Style Griddled Fish
    • Fava Bean Mash
    • Fried Duck

    from North Africa:

    • Sardines with Spicy Hot Mayonnaise Sauce from Algeria
    • Berber-Style Barley
    • A Grand Moroccan Pigeon Pie (which can be made with Cornish hens or chicken)
    • from Tunisia, Sweet Ragout of Quince and Lamb, Stuffed Squid from Djerba, and Grilled Salad

    Fish stews from cuisines around the Mediterranean are featured in A Mediterranean Feast as well, as are breads from throughout the region.


    About the Author

    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
    Hardcover, $35.00
    ISBN: 0-688-15305-5
    Information provided by the publisher.


    A Mediterranean Feast


    Buy A Mediterranean Feast


    Visit the Global Gourmet's Tunisia page.

    Visit the Global Gourmet's Middle East page.

    Visit the Global Gourmet's France page.


    Cookbook Profile Archive

    Modified August 2007

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