Last night’s session of Eat, Write, Love at the Jewish Book week was everything I was hoping for: entertaining, inspiring, stimulating and witty. The room was full, mostly women and a few men, possibly cooks themselves. Allegra Goodman and Yotam Ottolenghi were elegantly mediated by Charlotte Mendelson who kept a good balance between the authors and left good time at the end for interesting questions.
I must admit that I did not know Allegra Goodman before last night; I had heard of her work but never had a chance to read any of her books or short stories. Well, I found her a delight to listen to and her new book, The Cookbook Collector sounds fascinating, andI will definitely read it. As for Yotam Ottolenghi, as Charlotte rightly said, he needs no introduction and I’m a huge fan, both on a personal level as I find him extremely human and kind, and of course as a chef and author. I first met Yotam at his Notting Hill deli in 2003 when I was living around the corner and I used to go every weekend for brunch.He had just opened the first Ottolenghi and still worked in the kitchen at the time. He was very friendly and I remember chatting about our shared passion for food, as well asthe work we were doing. He has come a very long way since and I’m delighted to see that.
Yotam rightly said that “a recipe is not just a recipe, it needs to tell a story”, you need toadd value to each recipe and bring it to life, and I couldn’t agree more. An interesting parallel was also made by Allegra, asking if one lives their life following a recipe and instructions, or if one picks a number of ingredients and then just let things happen as they live along. They both admitted to flow with their lives and their work experiences,and this is probably reflected by the fact that they both came from an academic background and gave it up to follow their inner passions; writing and cooking.
One thing is certain, both Allegra and Yotam succeeded to do with their audience what they do so well with words and ingredients ‘make them smile’.
Born and bred in Rome, Silvia Nacamulli is an Italian-Jewish cookery expert livingin London. She runs her own business Cooking for the Soul, where she teaches atcookery schools and privately. She caters Italian food and runs culinary holidays in Italy– the next one on the 19-24 June 2011 in Tuscany. She also lectures on the history ofItalian Jewish cooking and writes a monthly column for the Jewish Chronicle. She is currently writing her first book. www.cookingforthesoul.com