Is That Kosher?

imageYou bet it is.  Jewish Cooking In America by Joan Nathan  is one of my rare recent cookbooks.  Hah.  Recent?  It was first published twenty years ago and as near as I can tell it is still in print.

Marvelous cookbook, but it is so much more.  It is a history of the various waves immigrations.   Okay, here’s a tidbit about me.  I have a degree in History.  Sure I love food, but I also love history.  History of Food?  I’m in heaven.  I’ve barely glanced at this, but I plan on reading it cover to cover.   There is way too much information to relate in any detail, but I’m not actually reviewing most of these books, just trying to give you a brief glimpse into why I found it collectible.

imageOdd things attract me.  For instance, I opened the cover and there was a greeting card stuck inside, a Mother’s Day card for a Grandmother that started “If they had a Grandma Hall of Fame You’d Be There …”  and the card completes the thought.

Awwww … then off to the estate sale as soon as you are gone.  I am always amazed that families get rid of things like this.  Maybe everybody already had a copy?  It’s a great book, really.   And Grandma kept the card!

imageOne of the really cool features is inside the front and back covers … a collage of ads in Hebrew.  Really interesting with a few identifiable products to those of us who don’t read Hebrew.

These ads complement some of the wonderful pictures inside the book, referencing past times and the origins of products and traditions and reflecting the history.  Yes, I’ll say it again. There is a lot of history in this book.  And there is a wonderful section with a lot of menus suggestions.


Here is one for an Eastern European Friday Night Supper.  What time should I show up?

I wish the wonderful interior pictures were of a quality that I could share, but I tried.  The cover photo is a good example, but most of the pictures in the book, although informative and a good supporting tool for the text, were grainy and did not work for this blog.  I guess you’ll have to buy the book.

My one other complaint, and this directly related to this blog mind you, it has nothing to do with the book, I mean, not really, is the fact that even the recipes have a great deal of historical lead-in.  The only recipes that don’t take a full page run over to the next page.  And most of the recipes are on the facing pages.  It makes it hard for me, your Crazy Cookbook Guy, to take a good picture of one of the recipes to share.  Small complaint.  I have the book to refer to.

Still, I managed to find a couple I could try to include but they may be hard to read in the photos I take.

imageJerusalem Hummus needs no introduction.  I mean, who doesn’t like Hummus?  Well some people, but I love it and it fit and it has a good leading story.  So, buy some chick peas, and some tahini and enjoy!

imageI picked the other recipe to help illustrate the depth and breadth of this book.  It covers the entirety of Jewish immigration.  I mean, who knew Sephardic Jews came to New Orleans via Jamaica in the 1860s?  I didn’t.

If you ever come across a copy of this delightful book, I hope you pick it up. The history and recipes weave a story of struggle and success and faith and family.  Even though I got it for a quarter, I think I would have picked it up in almost any used bookstore I frequent, it is that good.


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