Saturday, May 16, 2020

Review: Cape Mediterranean: The Way We Love to Eat by Ilse van der Merwe




The Western Cape is a province of South Africa on the southwest coast, probably best known to Americans for Cape Town, its largest city. Because of its Mediterranean climate and abundance of Mediterranean-style local produce, including wine and olive oil, the Western Cape has developed a  style of food and cooking known as Cape Mediterranean. Cape Mediterranean food mixes the flavors of Southwestern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa with ingredients and tastes of South Africa.

Ilse van der Merwe is a self-taught cook, culinary enthusiast, blogger, and food writer. She has been blogging about cooking, food, and entertaining on her blog, The Food Fox, since 2011. She wanted to write a book about Cape Mediterranean food and cooking to document the contemporary style of cooking popular in the Western Cape. She describes Cape Mediterranean food as "a hybrid cuisine strongly influenced by the broader Mediterranean basin," although with more meat and dairy.

Her new cookbook, Cape Mediterranean: The Way We Love to Eat includes more than 75 tasty recipes, well-illustrated with beautiful photographs, that cover everything from bread and appetizers to fish and roasts, vegetable dishes and pastas, and several lovely desserts. It is a "Pan-Mediterranean" collection, with recipes as diverse as a classic chicken liver pate with brandy to harissa paste, arancini with smoked mozzarella to split pea soup with smoked pork, Greek-style youvetsi (a lamb casserole) to preserved lemons.

The collection skews Italian, and maybe a little more northern Italian than what some would think of as typically Mediterranean, with plenty of cheese and cream. But there are, overall, more than enough vegetable dishes and lashings of olive oil to round out the compilation. None of the recipes are terribly difficult and van der Merwe gives clear instructions. The one tricky bit is that temperatures have not been converted from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

All in all, Cape Mediterranean is an enticing cookbook for American home cooks curious about how people cook and eat in Cape Town, or looking for a new, one-stop collection of popular, tasty dishes.


WEEKEND COOKING


Weekend Cooking is a weekly blog event where book bloggers have been sharing food-related posts on the weekends since 2009, when Beth Fish Reads started the event. Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader took over hosting duties from Beth this weekend.

Thank you Beth for hosting for so long! And thank you Marg for taking over! Ever since I started my own law firm, I haven't had the time I would like for book blogging, including this fun event that I always enjoyed. One upside of sheltering in place is I have a little more time to blog.

13 comments :

  1. It's interesting that there's a named cuisine in that region, though your description doesn't distinguish it from cuisines that make adaptations of European recipes in other dispersed parts of the world. Pea soup, chicken liver pate, and roasts, for example are not particularly Mediterranean; in fact, I would identify pea soup as maybe Danish. But it's still an interesting idea, and maybe the cookbook just didn't really capture what's original there.

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. I know. A lot of the recipes seem more generally French or Italian than "Mediterranean" to me. But I gather they are dishes popular in that region and the style of cooking is called Cape Mediterranean, even if people in North America might not consider the food "Mediterranean" the way we use the term. Actually, her pea soup recipe is more Northern African.

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  2. This sounds like a cookbook I'd like to just look through -- and then cook from.

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    1. It's an interesting cookbook. I like it. Thank you for hosting Weekend Cooking for so long!

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  3. You certainly can't judge a book by its cover, but the cover of this book is very appealing. I'm not familiar with South African cooking or ingredients, but the idea of using Middle Eastern, European, and North African type of recipes sounds delicious. It is a cookbook that I would like to have a chance to browse through. Thanks for the review

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    1. It is an interesting mix of recipes. I enjoy the book a lot.

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  4. My husband is South African, but from around Johannesburg. We had a couple of great meals when we visited Cape Town. One afternoon we sat in a winery, tasted some wine, ate some cheese! Such a nice afternoon. And the cover on this is gorgeous!

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    1. The author mentions in the introduction that the regional cooking of South Africa varies. I would like to visit and learn more. Thanks for taking over hosting duties!

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  5. What a great review. I hope my library has a copy of this book. I always like to preview before purchasing,

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    1. What a good idea! When my library reopens, I'll look for cookbooks.

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  6. An unusual cuisine! Sounds intriguing! The temperatures would make it a little harder to use in the U.S., that's for sure. Have you tried any of the recipes? Some of the ones you mention sound pretty complicated!

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    1. Thank goodness Google can convert the temperatures! I haven't tried the recipes yet. Some are more complicated, some are simple, like hummus. It's a good mix.

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  7. The cover looks beautiful! I bet there's some great photos with the recipes. Thanks for the review!

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