In the kitchen, as elsewhere, sometimes a bit of homespun wisdom can be more helpful than the fanciest education. In our library the books range from printed pamphlets to glossy coffee table tomes. All are there for a reason. While many of these books have been read from cover to cover, others are consulted for specific purposes. There are books that are fun to read, books that we must read and books that are like encyclopedias, used for the purpose of looking up information. Cookbooks, due to their size, are notoriously difficult to curl up with in bed. Hence the popularity of food writing in all of its myriad forms. That said some cookbooks are chatty and conversational and bursting with good information. That old adage "don't judge a book by it's cover" is true. Sometimes the ones that look fluffy actually have a lot of depth.
The Olive and The Caper, Adventures in Greek Cooking by Susanna Hoffman is one of those books. Unassuming in appearance, splashed with colorized boxes and pages, and full of quotes and stories you might think it was more lacking in substance. You would be wrong. There is an incredible amount of information packed between these two soft covers. Even better it is presented in such an easygoing manner that you will learn tons without ever realizing that it's happening. There is history and folklore interspersed with some really good recipes for Greek food. It fulfills the requirements of being a book you will enjoy reading and enjoy cooking from.
Having grown up in New York City my childhood was filled with Greek diners and the occasional trips to Astoria for Greek dinners. It is one of my favorite foods. Good books about Greek food were hard to find so when I stumbled across this one several years back I knew I had found a winner. It emphasized the bright, intense flavors that I love, the use of fresh herbs and the romantic nature of both the culture and the cuisine. This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves Greek food or just loves reading about food. In the last ten to fifteen years Greek food has been elevated to the level of fine dining. Chefs like Michael Psilakis have put Greece back on the menu in a whole new way. It's a cuisine worth exploring because there is so much there to work with.
So if you'd like to win a copy of The Olive and The Caper, please leave a comment below telling us about a Greek meal that made an impression on you. One entry per person please and make sure there is an email attached to your comment so we can contact you if you win. Comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. WInner will be randomly chosen on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9am EST. This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been notified via email. Thanks for all your comments.