Boston readers love ‘Jerusalem’


Cookbooks are seldom bestsellers, with some rare exceptions — like those authored by Julia Child or some other member of kitchen royalty. Every so often, though, the culinary and literary stars align, and a cookbook comes along that seems to captivate all the food lovers around. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi are colleagues at Ottolenghi, the London food shop, and co-authors of “Jerusalem,” the cookbook of the moment named for and inspired by their shared hometown.

“To be honest, the book’s appeal is far greater than we could have imagined,” Ottolenghi told the Globe via e-mail. “The book comes from a place of unadulterated love from Sami and me. Our focus was very clear, very straightforward, utterly dictated by the recipes we loved to eat and cook growing up.”

Ottolenghi grew up on Jerusalem’s Jewish side, Tamimi in a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The cultural and religious diversity of their partnership mirrors that of the city — one of the strengths of its cuisine, according to Ottolenghi. “There is no one Jerusalem ‘food,’ ” he wrote. “The number of cultures and areas and people and culinary traditions all living so close together means that there is so much to draw on, so many variations on a theme, so much to pick and choose from.”


Following the cookbook’s success here, its publisher is bringing out a new American edition of the pair’s first collaboration, titled simply “Ottolenghi” and focusing on the shop’s signature dishes. As for what comes next, the author says it won’t be another city: “There is no way we’d try and do justice to a place that has not, literally, been running through our veins like Jerusalem has.”

Perhaps the only complaint local readers have with the Jerusalem cookbook is the difficulty at times in sourcing its ingredients. Ottolenghi counseled patience — and put in a plug for his business. “It was not too far back that getting hold of hummus was noteworthy so the availability of products will continue to expand,” he wrote. “You can also get a lot of things online. Our webstore is certainly able and pleased to be able to supply American cooks with any ingredients they can’t find!”

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at