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OP: Mama Nazima's Jewish Iraqi Cuisine

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by Rivka Goldman

This fine book deals with one of the ways that the food of Jewish immigrants took shape in a largely Arab region, taking on its own character with much to admire.

Assembled by Rivka Goldman, who credits her mother, Leah Nazima Sofaer, with the contents of the book, it mixes fragments of the family’s life story and the food they made and ate. That food was, of course, already heavily shaped by the varied cultural encounters of their community and that of their adopted homes during more than a thousand years of conquest, trade, and other influences.

The recipes, all provided with their original Judeo-Arabic names, are widely varied. We see a feta cheese and onion salad; a chicken soup flavored with oregano, lemon, and curry; Passover fried matzo with garlic, ginger, and paprika; chicken with raisins and almonds; fried meat dumplings with pine nuts; baklava with a syrup of ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. 

This is a nice little volume—well designed and a real treat—published in 2006 by Hippocrene, a publisher known for its adventurous specialized cookbooks (Laotian, Estonian, Maltese, Mongolian, Uzbek, Albanian, and nearly one hundred others—most of them now out of print). Our copy is a Fine first printing, signed and inscribed to a previous owner. Highly desirable and now quite scarce in hardcover, though we were thrilled to see it reissued in paperback in 2021.

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