Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: The Philosopher's Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook by Francine Segan

Synopsis: "Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily," aid the Greek philosopher Epicurus two thousand years ago. Certainly the dazzlingly varied, subtly seasoned cuisine of ancient Greece and Rome measured up to the highest standards of eating pleasure. The Philosopher's Kitchen offered seductive, modern interpretations of these dishes rediscovered in a variety of sources, from writings of Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and Cicero to the oldest known surviving cookbook. Here is a rich array of culinary delights, ab ovo usque ab malum - "from eggs to fruit," as the Romans said. Mussels in Cumin-Sherry Sauce, Chestnut-Mint Puree, Chicken Breasts with Hazelnut Pesto, Lamb with Pomegranate-Glazed Onions, and Walnut Cake with Fig Jam are just a few of the delicious, healthy, and gorgeous recipes in this book that will delight and surprise the modern cook. Francine Segan also allow us a glimpse into the ancient world by putting each recipe in its cultural context, taking us to Greek feasts and Romance banquets, and revealing customs, expressions, and superstitions that are still very much a part of modern life. She share tips on entertaining, even including sample invitations a host can use to summon friends to a Roman spread of his or her own. Organized for easy, efficient use and luxuriously illustrated with Tim Turner's stunning photographs, The Philosopher's Kitchen is a glorious buffet for the senses and the soul. (From the back of the book)

Review: This was part of the recent estate sale lot. It's not a book I would pick for myself - thinking it pretentious, snooty and a bit expensive (at $35) for a cookbook. However, I was pleasantly surprised and more than a little glad it was part of my haul. Instead of ridiculous foodie nonsense and expensive ingredients, this felt more like a cookbook with hand-written notes. Each recipe was easy to follow, with no special jargon or equipment needed. Surrounding it, Segan included tidbits about ancient ingredients, food preparation techniques, rituals, traditions and of course, quotes from Philosophers about food, pleasure and the stomach. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unique recipes with history on the side. Personally, I can't wait for my fig tree to fruit next year, not that I finally have a few fig recipe I want to try.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-4000-6099-0
Date Finished: 11-24-2013
Pages: 250

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