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Paula Wolfert's World of Food


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#1 ludja

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 10:57 AM

Hello Paula.

Thank you again for your generous replies to our questions.

“Paula Wolfert’s World of Food” has come up a few times in people's questions and your answers and it has been one of my very favorite cookbooks for a long time.

I realize that some of the recipes from Southwest France have been rightfully brought ‘home’ to be added into “The Cooking of Southwest France” but there are so many other interesting recipes in there from all over the Mediterranean.. I’m lucky to have a copy, but do you think there is any possibility it will be reprinted?

I love the story behind the Walnut Roll and this dessert has also become one of my “go to” desserts; easy and delicious. You describe the recipe as bringing back memories of one of your first professional cooking experiences (a catering job for a fancy private dinner party for 150 people in CT). I always think of that story each time I make the cake!
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#2 Wolfert

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:05 PM

Hello Paula.

Thank you again for your generous replies to our questions.

“Paula Wolfert’s World of Food” has come up a few times in people's questions and your answers and it has been one of my very favorite cookbooks for a long time.

I realize that some of the recipes from Southwest France have been rightfully brought ‘home’ to be added into “The Cooking of Southwest France” but there are so many other interesting recipes in there from all over the Mediterranean..  I’m lucky to have a copy, but do you think there is any possibility it will be reprinted?

I love the story behind the Walnut Roll and this dessert has also become one of my “go to”  desserts; easy and delicious.  You describe the recipe as bringing back memories of one of your first professional cooking experiences (a catering job for a fancy private dinner party for 150 people in CT).  I always think of that story each time I make the cake!

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I'm so glad you like the walnut roll. It is a favorite at our house as well.

I plan to revise some of the recipes in world of food for the claypot book. The remaining recipes will find a resting home on my website.
Don't hold your breathe, I'm a two-fingered typist..
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

#3 Smithy

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 02:53 PM

Paula, if these questions have been addressed, or implicitly answered, elsewhere, please forgive the repetition. I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask in the short time we have remaining with you. Perhaps I'll have to go haunt the used bookstores for your World of Food book to get my answers?

First - what is the common ground that defines Mediterranean food? There seems to be less distance, figuratively speaking, between Moroccan and Turkish food than between Moroccan and French food. Even though the climates may be similar (that all-important "Mediterranean climate", which California shares) the cultures seem wildly different. I haven't identified the thread that binds them together.

Second - can you describe the progression you made from one cuisine to the next, and why you made it? I had the idea that you'd started with Moroccan food, but the Elizabeth David discussion makes me wonder. Where did you start, and what prompted to you move to the next?

Finally - whether or not you have time to answer, please accept my thanks for this special conversation. It's always good to read your responses on the Forum, but this week has been especially well focused and interesting.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown


#4 Wolfert

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 04:53 PM

Paula, if these questions have been addressed, or implicitly answered, elsewhere, please forgive the repetition.  I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask in the short time we have remaining with you.  Perhaps I'll have to go haunt the used bookstores for your World of Food book to get my answers?

First - what is the common ground that defines Mediterranean food?  There seems to be less distance, figuratively speaking, between Moroccan and Turkish food than between Moroccan and French food.  Even though the climates may be similar (that all-important "Mediterranean climate", which California shares) the cultures seem wildly different.  I haven't identified the thread that binds them together. 

Second - can you describe the progression you made from one cuisine to the next, and why you made it?  I had the idea that you'd started with Moroccan food, but the Elizabeth David discussion makes me wonder.  Where did you start, and what prompted to you move to the next?

Finally - whether or not you have time to answer, please accept my thanks for this special conversation.  It's always good to read your responses on the Forum, but this week has been especially well focused and interesting.

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I think you may find my answer in my second book, "Mediterranean Cooking," which is organized by ingredients. There're numerous common factors in this cuisines -- climate, cultural influences, etc., -- but I believe it's the products they have in common (olives, lemons, herbs, eggplants, Mediterranean fish and shellfish, etc.) that brings these disparate cuisines together. For me, these cuisines, as different as they are, represent a unity.


As for your second query, my first culinary experience was with Dione Lucas, who taught classic French Cordon Bleu style cooking. When I decided to try to do a cookbook, I didn't want to write about a cuisine, such as French or Italian, that had been well covered numerous times.

As you know I'd lived in Morocco, loved the food, and it was relatively unexplored territory. So that was the obvious choice for a first effort. Then I started the series of books that cut across Mediterranean frontiers.


SWF was more of a serendipity situation. I was sent my a magazine on assignnment to find the greatest cassoulet in France. Gascon food was a revelation, I felt a rapport with the people, I adored the food and discovered that it wasn't well-covered in English. So I spent five years focusing on it.

When that work was done, it was back to the Mediterranean -- more travel, more field work, more delicious discoveries. As I began to travel in the Middle East, I placed more and more emphasis on Eastern Med dishes.

As I've written (and I believe it's true) it would take five lifetimes to uncover all the great dishes I'm certain exist in these cultures. It's a bottomless pit in the most wondrous way. I feel most fortunate that I've been able to make it my life's work.

!

Edited by Wolfert, 18 November 2005 - 05:04 PM.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.