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The Olive and the Caper and other cookbooks with a story

Reading, cooking and eating go hand in hand in hand. Cookbooks, especially those from another country or culture, give you the opportunity to learn and to experience in quick succession.

The Olive and the Caper: adventures in Greek cooking by Susanna Hoffman has become a well-thumbed resource in my kitchen. Hoffman is both a chef and an anthropologist who has spent many years in Greece. She has brought this knowledge and mindset to this wonderful cookbook. The 300+ recipes are placed in their historical and cultural context with illustrations, and information about Greek history, poetry, politics and agriculture. This book has a great combination of recipes for both the experienced cooks who would be challenged by making their own filo pastry and the more work-a-day chefs among us who are more comfortable with basic fare like Hoffman’s vegetable stew (a favourite in my home).

This book (and these others ) would be a great suggestion for anyone interested in the culture of food, regional history, or for someone merely craving wholesome, traditional food.

Mangoes and Curry Leaves: culinary travels through the great subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford.

A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: exploring and eating off the beaten track by Beth Elon

Catalan Cuisine: vivid flavors from Spain’s Mediterranean coast by Colman Andrews

The Art of Mexican Cooking: traditional Mexican cooking for aficionados by Diana Kennedy

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