For American Jews, brought up on the stolid meat-and-potatoes diet of Eastern and Central Europe, the food of the Italian Jews offers a new menu. Infused with fresh flavors — herbs, pasta, fruits and vegetables— these variations on the Sephardic table correspond to our taste for the lighter and brighter dishes of the Mediterranean.
But Edda Servi Machlin’s Classic Italian Jewish Cooking is much more than a collection of attractive and straightforward recipes. A loving tribute to the lost Jewish life of Pitigliano, a small town in Tuscany where Jews and their Christian neighbors lived harmoniously for 600 years, the book preserves a vivid picture of the town’s rich Jewish life — the underground communal oven where the women baked matzos for Passover, the secular and Jewish libraries maintained by the synagogue, the elaborate preparations for Shabbat.
This edition brings together 300 recipes selected from three earlier books by Machlin on Italian-Jewish cuisine, along with her affectionate memories and teacher’s enthusiasm for passing on this rich culinary legacy. Illustrations, index.
Maron L. Waxman, retired editorial director, special projects, at the American Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-of-the-Month Club.