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Jewish Traditions Cookbook
Some folks might not like Chinese food; others don’t like
the rich spicy flavour of Indian meals; there are
those who say that Northern European food is bland; but it’s impossible
to say that one doesn’t like Jewish food.
“What’s not to like?” my Jewish friends might demand. There is no
seasoning that is Jewish and Jewish alone, no cooking method that is
unique to those attending synagogue, no single ingredient that is kept
only for those of this particular faith. No reason not to like Jewish
The cuisine sweeps away national boundaries. It embraces the cooking
styles of every continent. The raw materials reflect the produce of the
diverse countries that have become home to this displaced nation.
Jewish cooking is World cooking.
Marlena Spieler knows just about all there is to know about the central
place of food in Jewish traditions. Every occasion, be it joyous, sad
or religious, has food associated with it. Marlena offers us 400
recipes (some of which have become standard in our home... and, no, I
am not Jewish) that give a view of both modern and ancient dishes. Many
will be familiar to my dear reader who might not even have considered
these to be Jewish foods.
You might know that Cheesecake is Jewish and a bagel is the mainstay of
any Jewish baker, but how’s about Moroccan Pigeon Pie, B’Stillah? It is
one of Morocco’s most celebrated dishes but Marlena tells us that it
originated in Andalucía in Spain and was brought to North Africa
by the Jewish community. Moroccan Jews have carried the recipe with
them to new homes around the globe.
Jews not only took their own dishes to far off countries but they were
evidently open to new ideas. Stollen is what we think of as the
archetypal German Christmas bread, but it has been adopted by those
Jewish communities still remaining in Germany as a sweet treat to
garnish the table at winter celebrations.
I have found several recipes here that have already become favourites.
In particular Moist Orange and Almond Cake which is amazingly simple, a
fat-free cake with a robust orange flavour from an orange that is first
boiled and then liquidised. It takes an hour for the aforementioned
fruit to reach soft perfection but you aren’t expected to stand and
watch it. I confess that have even made this cake with less almonds
than recommended (mental note: must write shopping list) and it was
still a delight. Perhaps even better the next day if you can bring
yourself to save it.
Jewish Traditions Cookbook is full of dishes that I personally enjoy
eating. It’s good cooking for today’s living. There is plenty for both
vegetarians and meat eaters, for those who love spice and others who
crave delightful desserts. Yes, the book will be welcomed by the Jewish
home cook who will appreciate these 400 or so kosher recipes as well as
the history behind so many of them, but the dishes are just as good for
non-Jews. “What’s not to like?”
Cookbook review: Jewish Traditions Cookbook
Author: Marlena Spieler
Published by: Lorenz Books