Gabriola Island, BC is twenty minutes by ferry from Vancouver Island and 22 square miles in area. It’s not on the way to anywhere.
Shefrin’s collages brighten every corner of this book, including the flour-sacks and vegetables and loaded platters scattered colorfully across the endpapers, the charming collage portraits of the storyteller (Yolen) and cook (Stemple), and the textured assortments of single page and spot illustrations throughout.
Divided into sections that contain recipes and stories for Brunch, Soup, Main Courses, and Desserts, each chapter is prefaced by an epigraph. I have a hard time deciding which of them is the quirkiest and most charming but here are a few:
The eggs are wiser than the hens. (Old Jewish saying)
Nothing is certain but death and blintzes (Old Jewish comedy routine)
No human hand touches these matzos (B. Manischewitz Co. Slogan, 1880s)
Yolen’s deft storytelling pairs up with Stemple’s recipes for tables loaded with delights. The pomegranate couscous recipe is accompanied by “The Pomegranate Seed,” in which a sultan recognizes the commonness of human frailty and pardons a hungry man for stealing a loaf of bread. “The Flour Barrel and the Water Jug,” in which charity comes back to the giver, pairs up with matzo balls.
Oddness and eccentricity abound in the stories, from the man whose dying whisper forbids his son to cross the River Danube to the potboy, studying to be a rabbi, who matches wits with a cheating customer.
There is not a more natural combination than food and story, and the delights of both brim over in this generous volume, complete with a ribbon to mark your story (or recipe) page. From Crocodile Books/Interlink. Review copy received from the publisher.