Evident in this encyclopaedic journey is Paula Wolfert's 50-year-long affair with the country, its people and their relationship with food.
By
Siobhan Scott

12 Dec 2012 - 12:41 PM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2014 - 1:45 PM

Why buy it?

After 35 years and having already put her first study of Moroccan flavours into print (Good Food from Morocco) – not to mention seven explorations of the Mediterranean – Paula Wolfert plunges again into the souks and villages of Morocco. Evident in this encyclopaedic journey is her 50-year-long affair with the country, its people and their relationship with food. Meticulously researched, these recipes are not merely a roll-call of the greatest hits; many are given loving introductions before being dispatched into the repertoires of their new cooks. There’s Fatima’s lamb tagine with swede and sesame seeds, in which the cook is directed to spread the vegetables over the meat in the manner of 'a flaming nebula in a dark sky", while other recipes come with gentle advice on serving or how to extract the most from ingredients. There’s a real sense these recipes are cherished by Wolfert; each a gem that’s been polished by centuries of use. She’s taken her time to learn their secrets and we reap the benefits with deeply layered flavours that are authentically Moroccan.

Cookability

The recipes are comprehensive without being overly technical. Despite a few spices and herbs that are a little more obscure, the ingredients are mostly simple, accessible and affordable.

Must-cook recipe

Bastilla of fes with chicken or quail. Rich, spiced chicken hides beneath a flaky crust dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

Most surprising dish

Tangier-style harira. If you ever find yourself in a frenetic Moroccan medina, this humble soup is the perfect way to re-orient yourself.

Kitchen wisdom

Too often Moroccan food is relegated to the realm of the dinner party, and while some dishes in this book will benefit from a few good hours, there are many that are suitable for everyday cooking.

Ideal for

Any devotee or newcomer to the heady, spiced flavours of North African fare.

The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert (Bloomsbury, $65, hbk).