For many of us whose idea of good food is a bowl of olives, a plate of mezze, a huge dish of paella or Catalan soup or lamb with couscous, Nancy Harmon Jenkins' cookbook The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, or her newer The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, is one of the basic books of the kitchen. First published almost twenty years ago, Jenkins' book was groundbreaking in its simplicity, with the book's subtitle -- "A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health" -- a promise that recalibrating what we eat away from fast and processed food to the ingredients of Mediterranean cooking could not help but yield healthful and delicious results.
|Nancy Harmon Jenkins|
Filled with recipes that read more like Yotam Ottolenghi's idea of food than WeightWatchers, Jenkins' book meant "diet" in the basic sense of the word: what we eat, what we should eat, what we used to eat, at least if we lived along the shores of the Mediterranean, where olives and vegetables and fish and grains and wine were once basic, ordinary fare.
When the results of a 5-year study were published recently by the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease could be prevented in people at high risk if they switched to a Mediterranean diet, Jenkins' book came into focus again. We caught up with her by phone in Maine this week, where she was happy to talk about her book, the new findings, her upcoming book on olive oil and whether her views have changed. (They have not.) She was also pretty happy to be decamping for Italy from her native Maine, where it had been snowing for much of the last week. Buon appetito! Turn the page. More »