The Perpetual Table

A review by Franz Scheurer


Combine the Arabs’ talent for telling stories with the close-knit, inward looking family values of the Jews, throw in history, music, art and package it with modern technology and you end up with ‘The Perpetual Table’, a ‘living’ document on a CD.


Is this a ‘book’ on Judeo-Babylonian culture? Is it a ‘CD’ of Middle Eastern music? Is it a ‘DVD’ of instructional videos on how to cook a cuisine that’s more than 2000 years old? Or is it simply a collection of recipes with a lot of very personal family history added? It’s all of the above.


Nita Tiffaha Jawary lives in Melbourne and bills herself as an expert in the cuisine of Judeo-Babylon and old Baghdad (pre 1951). She introduces us to an ancient cuisine, still practiced by her family and no doubt countless others. It’s a highly personalised account, with recipes handed down by relatives over centuries, cooked, tested and talked about by family and friends at a shared table. There are more than 65 recipes, 20 video clips and 300 images of relevant art and pictures of old Baghdad. All this is underpinned by the wonderful music of Yair Dalal, a very talented aoud and violin player.


This is not a slick, professional production. The quality of the images and the filming of the video clips could be a lot better but it is nevertheless a powerful portal into a culture and cuisine most of us know little about. The recipes are well laid out and explained, the food is interesting and delicious, but it’s the insight into the lives of a community that cherishes and holds on to tradition that’s fascinating.


The CD will run on any windows based machine that can accommodate Acrobat Reader 6 or higher (which is a free download from Adobe). You can easily print out a recipe, and after watching the video clip on how the dish is made, recreate it in your own kitchen.


The ‘Perpetual Table’ is available for $35 from Books for Cooks and many other bookshops.


For more information e-mail Nita at:


Or order your CD from:


Books for Cooks      

233 Gerturde Street

Fitzroy VIC 3065

Tel.: 03 8415 1415