In 1994, Nathan published the much-acclaimed Jewish Cooking in America, which won both the James Beard Award and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. Four years later, she released an expanded edition.
This rich tapestry of more than three centuries of Jewish cooking in America gathers together some 335 kosher recipes, old and new. They come from both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews who settled all over America, bringing with them a wide variety of regional flavors, changing and adapting their traditional dishes according to what was available in the new country.
What makes Jewish cooking unique are the ancient dietary laws that govern the selection, preparation, and consumption of observant Jews. Food plays a major part in rituals past and present, binding family and community. It is this theme that informs every part of Joan Nathan’s warm and lively text.
Every dish has a story — from the cholents (long-cooked rich meat stews) and kugels (vegetable and noodle puddings) prepared in advance for the Sabbath, to the potato latkes (served with maple syrup in Vermont and goat cheese in California) and gefilte fish (made with white fish in the Midwest, salmon in the Northwest, haddock in New England, and shad in Maryland).
Nathan tells us how lox and bagels and Lindy’s cheesecake became household words, and how American products like Crisco, cream cheese, and Jell-O forever changed Jewish home cooking. Her recipes and stories come from every part of the U.S.A. They are seasoned with Syrian, Moroccan, Greek, German, Polish, Georgian, and Alsatian flavors, and they represent traditional foods tailored for today’s tastes as well as some of the nouvelle creations of Jewish chefs from New York to Tucson.
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