A groundbreaking culinary work of extraordinary depth and scope that spans more than one thousand years of history, A Mediterranean Feast tells the sweeping story of the birth of the venerated and diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean. Author Clifford A. Wright weaves together historical and culinary strands from Moorish Spain to North Africa, from coastal France to the Balearic Islands, from Sicily and the kingdoms of Italy to Greece, the Balkan coast, Turkey, and the Near East.
The evolution of these cuisines is not simply the story of farming, herding, and fishing; rather, the story encompasses wars and plagues, political intrigue and pirates, the Silk Road and the discovery of the New World, the rise of capitalism and the birth of city-states, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the obsession with spices. The ebb and flow of empires, the movement of populations from country to city, and religion have all played a determining role in making each of these cuisines unique.
In A Mediterranean Feast, Wright also shows how the cuisines of the Mediterranean have been indelibly stamped with the uncompromising geography and climate of the area and a past marked by both unrelenting poverty and outrageous wealth. The book's more than five hundred contemporary recipes (which have been adapted for today's kitchen) are the end point of centuries of evolution and show the full range of culinary ingenuity and indulgence, from the peasant kitchen to the merchant pantry. They also illustrate the migration of local culinary predilections, tastes for food and methods of preparation carried from home to new lands and back by conquerors, seafarers, soldiers, merchants, and religious pilgrims.
A Mediterranean Feast includes fourteen original maps of the contemporary and historical Mediterranean, a guide to the Mediterranean pantry, food products resources, a complete bibliography, and a recipe and general index, in addition to a pronunciation key. An astonishing accomplishment of culinary and historical research and detective work in eight languages, A Mediterranean Feast is required-and intriguing-reading for any cook, armchair or otherwise.
Clifford A. Wwright is a cook, food writer, and research scholar specializing in the cuisines of the Mediterranean. He is the author of six cookbooks and writes frequently for Saveur, Fine Cooking, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine, as well as having written all the food entries for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East.
Wright is also a nationally recognized cook. He was chosen as one of the most innovative cooks in America by The New York Times in its "Cooks on the Map" series for his style of emphasizing regional Mediterranean home cooking with its historical background. Before writing about food, Wright had a successful career in the field of international affairs, beginning as a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., then as a staff fellow at the Institute of Arab Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and finally as the executive director of the American Middle East Peace Research Institute.
Wright received his master of arts degree in philosophy from the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York, where he was also a doctoral candidate. Today, while he continues his writing and cooking, Wright is a center affiliate of the Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles. Born in New York, he lived for many years in the Boston area and now resides in Santa Monica, California, with his three children.