Romania is for many westerners a place of mystery. In fact, many people might even have a hard time finding it on a map. Yet it is a land rich in culture, with a unique heritage. Paula Berger – artist, writer and cuisine reviewer – has created a beautiful illustrated cookbook that was inspired by a Romanian story written by Ion Creanga, The Little Purse with Two Pennies.
Paula Berger has entitled her book, The Little Purse with 200 Recipes. It is illustrated with photographs of food that are so gorgeous you can practically see the steam rising off the dishes and smell the incredible aroma of the cooked food. At first glance, the bold colors and dense detail looks very much like Jan Brett’s picture book illustrations. But a closer examination reveals that while there are elements in common, Paula’s work is uniquely her own while drawing upon traditions suitable for this particular project. Each chapter of the book is headed up with an original picture showing one of Romania’s story book characters or traditional stories and followed up with Romanian cuisine.
All of the work on the book is done by Paula and her husband, Holger. She has created a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to pay for 1000 copies of the book to be printed, with enough above that to take care of the campaign costs. When printed, the book will ship anywhere in the world. With only 1000 copies planned, collectors will need to request their copy early.
The term collectors is used here because this is a beautiful little book with incredible illustrations. Paula Berger has been collaborating with food magazines, and has work published both online and off. A visit to her website, will reveal an incredible talent. This is not your average regional cookery book. It is a true enogastronomic art work.
If you have not previously encountered the term, enogastronomy is the practice of traveling from one country to another, sampling their food and drink. This book reflects the rich history and natural resources of Romania. To fully appreciate this lovely work, let’s take a look at Romania.
The country is east of Hungary, and its western border opens out on the Black Sea. To the south, you will find Yugoslavia and Bulgaria; to the north is Chisinau and the Ukraine. The terrain includes the Carpathian Mountains, access to the Black Sea and the Danube River and Danube delta where it empties into the Black Sea. This means that the natural land has rich hunting and fishing resources, as well as being an area where both grain and grapes are grown. Country dinners are traditionally rich and elaborate, with a wide variety of foods.
Rewards for pledging to this crowdfunding campaign includes postcards and tote bags imprinted with Paula’s beautiful artwork and photographs, as well as art work and signed copies of the book. This is a book that you will want to keep on your coffee table for guests to enjoy – not in the kitchen. Which is not to say that the recipes are not tasty – if they taste as good as the appearance of the sample photographs indicate, they will be a gastronomic delight.