Mondays are not my favorite mornings. Well, it might be more honest to say mornings are not my best time of day. So, the title of this book is not what drew me to it when it arrived (free) in the mail. Rather, it is the ways the women who constituted this club -- and published this volume, originally in Australia and then in the US -- see themselves as weaving together sisterhood, food, and stories. The women, from various ethnic Jewish backgrounds in Sydney's diverse community -- are what makes the story. (Not to mention that Nigella Lawson likes the book -- as does Nicole Kidman.) So, Monday Morning Cooking Club it is.
The book is organized sort of like a series of monologues -- it is divided not by kinds of food, but into sections for each of the women (and the women who matter to them) who is in the club. (Is that bad grammar or what?) Tales of the women, including their relation to food and their roles in families, are followed by recipes. The tone is chatty, warm, and, well, I am not sure that the stories matter as much in terms of their substance as that the tone is =, as Lawson says, "cosy." The book is clearly trying to give you the impression that you are there, with the women, in the cooking club.
The recipes range from pavlova for honey cake to zserbo, from Asian style snapper to Indian style curry and then onwards to perogen, ulnyik and much more. Desserts, mains, salads, soups, and sides are intermingled. And, the overall range reminds us of generational difference -- and the varieties of routes or travels that inform the diasporic Judaism of Sydney, Australia. (For information on Judaism in Sydney, and Australia more generally, click here.) Ethnicities represented include areas from within eastern and western Europe, India, Syria, Iraq and . . beyond.
As a side note, these women really push the boundaries as they are also a not for profit and 100% of the profits from the book go to charity. This certainly trumps all those places and businesses that give a much tinier percentage and limit themselves to a maximum that is an even smaller percentage of their overall profit. Hurrah.