by Sybil PrattJuly, 2001
editerranean magicThe very word "Mediterranean" instantly conjures up strong, golden sunlight, a dark azure sea, dusty green olive trees and wonderfully fresh, elegantly simple food. And summertime, when local produce is at its peak, is the perfect time to make Mediterranean meals in your own kitchen. If you don't have the time, or wherewithal, to spend months traveling from Spain, through the south of France and Italy to Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and North Africa savoring the food and collecting recipes, just dip into Sophie Grigson's Sunshine Food. Take the culinary journey with a highly acclaimed food writer who really knows and loves the sights, aromas and flavors of these seductive, sunlit lands. Sophie has gathered more than 100 of her favorite recipes, all invitingly introduced and offered with thoroughly explained, easy-to-follow directions. Among the renowned dishes here are Stifado, a comforting Greek beef stew scented with a hint of cinnamon; a vibrant Spanish Gazpacho; dark, pungent Provencal Tapenade; Grilled Field Mushrooms with Polenta and Mascarpone. But don't stop there. Try a wonderful array of small salads from Morocco, made with carrots, beets, green peppers, preserved lemons, eggplant, lentils and more that make super starters in any combination. Experiment with Tunisian Chak-Chouka, a brunch/ lunch special of eggs baked in a spicy stew of peppers and tomatoes, or Lemon Pannacotta with Carmelized Blood Oranges and Tangerine Compote. As you feast on any part of this marvelous Mediterranean melange, you'll almost feel the briney breeze and see the starched blue, sunlit sky. Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.