Saturday, April 19, 2014


Joan searches through countless books looking for any clue to unveil the mysteries of a subject that’s fascinated her for years.

She steps over to her laptop and types in a few key words. Twenty pages of links show and she scrolls down the many websites. Clinking onto the third, she hopes this one will reveal all the answers to her questions.

Nothing…Nothing. How come there’s not the right information? This is ridiculous.

Joan slams down the lid and scowls at the computer like it’s the one responsible for her dilemma. 

She sighs. 

Even the internet has let me down.

The following day at a family gathering, she probes her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles…no one has the answer.

It’s time to set out on my own…

*     *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

She arrives at her first stop, Paris, and visits the spirited Belleville market in Little Tunis. The air is thick with perfume from flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables. Her heart pulses with excitement as she wanders through miles of people, purchasing exotic foods for their tables. 

Joan plucks up the nerve and approaches an elderly woman wearing a black kerchief holding back braided silver hair. 

She smiles. “Yes dear. What can I get for you?” she asks. Her heavy French accent is almost musical.  

Joan swallows hard. “This may sound odd to you, Madame, but I am on a quest.”

The woman raises a wrinkled brow.

“I wish to discover the secrets of preparing French cuisine…”

The woman chuckles and her eyes brighten.

 “…but not in the traditional way. You see…I’m Jewish and wondered if their were any specific differences between classic French cooking and Jewish cooking?”

“We cook the same traditional kosher meals here as well. However, influences from other regions infuse different herbs, spices, and fruits to create meals with a distinctly unique flavor.

“I suggest you sample the local restaurants in this neighborhood. Then travel to Alsace and throughout the Loire valley. There you will discover what you seek.” 

And so Joan did and discovered 200 recipes and their stories … 

Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous

Joan Nathan

From Alsace…

Terrine de Poireaux: a baked leek quiche

From North Africa…
A Brik: a flaky pastry filled with tuna and cilantro

From Morocco…

Provincial Fish Soup with garlicky rouille

From the Mediterranean…

Artichoke and Orange salad with Saffron Mint

Tunisian Winter Squash Salad with Coriander and Harissa

And this is only the beginning…

Wow… now this not your usual cookbook. I love all types of cuisine, but to infuse all these influences into traditional Jewish meals must be outrageous.

Who doesn’t love quiches, kugels, couscous? Not to mention all the other amazing recipes in this book. Looks like I’ll be ordering this one too! 

I wish you all a wonderful Easter and Passover season! Happy Holidays and weekend everyone!

See you on Monday!


  1. Quirky title - it's an attention getter. Your intro is far better than any intro I've read for a cookbook, that's for sure.
    Have a Blessed Easter, Michael!

  2. Wow! What an interesting journey on the hunt for Jewish French cooking. Love it!

  3. Still not much of a chef here... nope, haven't improved dramatically since the last cookbook. BUT, I do know someone who I think would really like this one!

  4. Oh, I'm hungry! And I love to cook! This sounds great!

  5. Good luck, Joan! I liked that intro, Michael. (I mean it's Paris. . and France.) I do cook quiche, crepes, galettes, and prefer couscous to rice sometimes. Interesting that Joan has been able to merge cultures. A foodie quest would be fun. We liked the local recipes, and the smaller cafes in Paris that we visited.

  6. Your cookbook collection sounds a lot like mine, Michael! My husband has to keep building me new bookshelves! Happy Easter.

  7. Great intro as always, Michael! Sounds like an unique cookbook!

  8. I have a cookbook of Jewish Latin American cooking. This sounds really good too.

    Happy Easter.

  9. Mmm... Now you've got me hungry. I've found I devour French cuisine--and not just because they have such excellent cheese. (Although that helps.)

    True Heroes from A to Z

  10. Easter Greetings to you Michael.
    Wonderful into for a cook book, also great post to read.

  11. Sounds interesting. My daughter is studying in Morocco next fall. I hope she brings some interesting food ideas back for us to try.

  12. I loved this! My husband is Jewish and I'm French. Wow, the stories I could tell you! Happy Easter.

  13. Wow, what a wonderful story behind a cookbook! What a perfect time to launch it too. :)

  14. Now that's something I didn't expect you to do an intro for but it was great. And sounds very nice - I'm all for mixing cuisines and flavours.