Simple Pleasures (Hanaot Pshutot)
Published in 2000, the book “Hanaot Pshutot” (“Simple Pleasures”) was innovative in the Israeli culinary space in two ways. The recipes it presented were easy to make — short, clear and precise — yet somewhat sophisticated for their time. And they weren’t sorted into appetizers, main courses, and desserts, but according to season, event type, and who would be joining the cook for the meal. As a result, one can find comforting winter recipes, ideas for a sophisticated romantic dinner, and a summery feast with a crowd of friends.
Janna Gur’s recommendation of ‘Simple Pleasures’
Hani (Hanoch) was the gastronomic editor of Al Hashulchan for eight years. As my background was in writing, not in food, he was the one who shaped my culinary worldview. He educated me gastronomically, without ever explicitly educating me, simply through his attitude and the amount of knowledge he had. But he also taught me about writing, because his writing was as good as his cooking. And in cooking, just like in writing, it was clear that simplicity is key. He wrote just like he talked and cooked — with so much wisdom, yet without pretensions.
It is important to mention the Mapa travel guides he composed: this project took him to small artisans and small restaurants and Arab food, and other things that were not that common back then, and led to the creation of a different food culture. But I chose “Simple Pleasures” because I think it was innovative for its time. As its title indicates, it is a book of simple, easy-to-make food. The recipes may seem too simple today, but for their time they were both simple and clever. They are short, with no introductions, but accurate and great.
The chapter division was unusual for its time: Brunch; Warm for Winter; Dinner with Friends; Summer: Mediterranean Breeze; A Tempting Dinner for Two; Great Leftover Food and so on. And it makes so much sense: we want to cook according to the season and the time of day and the type of event and the guests and the hosting style, not according to a certain cuisine. Ferber understood it, but that understanding wasn’t prevalent yet. Each section of the book is accompanied with a beautiful text, which truly conveys Hani’s voice.
The photographs were taken by Michal Revivo, who is a field photographer; she photographs people, not food. And indeed, the book is laden with photographs of situations: on its cover you can see Hani standing and chopping, while a young girl is peaking from behind the table. Even in food shots, you always have a glimpse of the situation and of whatever happens in the background, a busy hand, a corner of the room, people in the background. Even here it is a different kind of photography, which is both simple and clever. I feel it commemorates Hani and his essence more than anything he has ever created.
- Hanoch Ferber
- Year published