Saturday, March 10, 2012
People of the Book...and Cake!
This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend. (The button is on your right...)
The book that the novel is about is an actual book - the Sarajevo Haggadah. A Haggadah is a book that everyone uses to follow along and read from during the seder - the Jewish ceremony held during Passover. This particular Haggadah is VERY special for several reasons. First of all, it is very old, and secondly, it is illuminated (has pictures) and most haggadahs do not have pictures. These are really special, old pictures, as well. I have included some examples (from Wiki) of the pictures here.
So, the novel, "People of the Book," is a fictional story about the real book - you with me so far? In the novel, Hanna Heath, uses clues to trace the history of the book. She traces the book as it travels across Europe - and we get to travel with it for centuries! What I found touching was that the book was saved during times of turmoil in Europe by non-Jews. Muslims saved it during the Nazi period. And, that brings us to the double meaning of "People of the Book." That is actually a term of respect that some Muslims use for Jews and Christians...we are all "People of the Book," in that all three religions hold the Old Testament more or less in common, and as such we are all cousins. So, this was the PERFECT title for this novel, as it is about the Haggadah and it is about good people of many faiths working to preserve it! How very interesting, Libby, you are saying to yourselves. But, "I was told there would be cake." (haha!) OK, I am getting to that...our heroine, Hanna, has to work really hard to learn more about the book. At one point, she checks in with her mentor in Vienna. While there, she is served coffee and Waves of the Danube Cake.
So, I am reading along, and see this reference, and naturally, I look it up and and I come across a baking blog Hungry Squirrel Cakes that has pictures and the recipe.
She has the recipe on her blog so I am not going to copy it here - click on Hungry Squirrel Cakes, above, if you want to make it and impress all your friends! Basically, the cherries weigh down the cake in places as it rises in the oven and that creates a pattern of 'waves' in the cake when seen from the side. So, I have followed the squirrel's recipe and present you with the following: (I am also including a YouTube video of the "Waves of the Danube" waltz because I like to set the mood!)
I am linking this post to Novel Food at briciole.typepad.com. I was sooo excited when I stumbled across their concept! They put together blog posts of food derived from novels that have been cooked up and photographed by bloggers all over the net! You should check it out!