From Publishers Weekly
Many traditional Southern foods—pulled-pork barbecue, crab cakes, fried oyster po' boys, to name a few—violate traditional Jewish dietary laws, which forbid the consumption of pork and shellfish. What's a Southern Jew to do? Anthropological historian Ferris (UNC–Chapel Hill) answers that question in a gustatory tour of the Jewish South. She uncovers many dishes that blend Jewish and Southern foodways (recipes included for such tasties as Temple Israel Brisket and Cornmeal-Fried Fish Fillets with Sephardic Vinagre Sauce). Ferris sees food as a symbol that encompasses the problem of how Jews live in a region dominated by Christians: "The most tangible way to understand Jewish history and culture in the South is at the dinner table." Cynics will wonder if a Jewish kugel (noodle casserole) prepared in the South is really any different from kugel in Chicago. Ferris's answer is an emphatic yes—because Jews in the South face different challenges than those in Chicago. Southern Jews must be more intentional about cooking that kugel and passing the recipe down from generation to generation. If this book were a restaurant, Michelin would award it two out of three stars: not absolutely first-rate, but "excellent cooking, worth a detour." (Oct.)
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"In Matzoh Ball Gumbo
, author Marcie Cohen Ferris has chronicled an important history of food and culture that is a fundamental element of who we are as southerners."
-A Rep Reading
"Fascinating reading mixed with delicious recipes."
Chicago Tribune, a syndicated column
"Takes readers on a tasty road trip."
-- Arkansas Libraries
"This culinary journey embraces oral histories, poignant anecdotes and evocative photographs to explore the power of food in the Jewish South. More than 30 recipes, many blending Jewish and Southern food traditions, add a cook's perspective and illustrate the story at the dinner table."
Chapel Hill Magazine
"Handsomely produced, filled with vivid and evocative photographs with many piquant sidebars. . . . The carefully selected recipes that accompany each chapter are skillfully adapted and usable."
Journal of Material Religion