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Cookbook is more than just recipes

Joan Nathan is the grande dame of Jewish cooking, and therefore the publication of any of her cookbooks would be an event. But this District resident's latest, The Food of Israel Today, is much more than just a fine collection of recipes although there are more than 300 recipes in this volume. It is a culinary odyssey through Israel, truly an insider's view of the food and the people of the Jewish state.

The book is written by someone who has searched the country for those recipes and eating establishments off the beaten track the places away from the large hotels and expensive restaurants of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where too many tourists eat and miss, literally and figuratively, the flavor of Israeli life. Even readers who think they understand life and food in the Jewish state will be delightfully surprised by what they can learn here.

Well-known eateries are included such as the Yotvata dairy restaurant on the Tel Aviv tayelet (boardwalk), purveyors of wonderfully imaginative food in gargantuan portions. If you've eaten there if you haven't, don't miss it on your next trip you probably know that it is an outlet of a kibbutz from the Arava region north of Eilat. But did you know Yotvata is an oasis, and that the settlement was founded by German-Jewish Zionists in 1919? (Not only can I wholeheartedly recommend the restaurant but its contribution to the book mushroom casserole was delicious when my wife gave it a try.)

It's not surprising that Nathan has included a recipe from Yotvata.

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