Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
June 1, 2023
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Mangia Bene

    Jewish communities have existed throughout the Mediterranean since the Roman era. For example, Jews were settled in Algeria since the first century A.D., although their food had much in common with the Muslim community that eventually formed after the eighth century. The Algerian Jews ate jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) on New Year's Eve. The jujube is a small fruit, a bit larger than a big olive, that I think tastes vaguely of dates flavored with apples and chocolate, called sheyzaf in the Mishna, and was introduced to the Maghrib in the third century. The mixture of garlic and onions is not only an age-old Mediterranean combination but also a favorite among the Algerian Jews. Garlic and onion, with the olive, form the foundation for the great majority of traditional North African Jewish recipes such as tabikha, a beef-and-onion stew, and mhatar, a lamb or chicken-and-garlic stew made by the Jews of Constantine in Algeria. Garlic was important for the Jews because of its magical and medicinal properties and the Talmud affirms the aphrodisiacal effects of garlic and recommends eating it for the sabbath dinner, perhaps because of its digestive properties.