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The World Of Jewish Cooking: More Than 400 Delectable Recipes from Jewish Communities Hardcover – September 6, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rabbi Marks explains how the Jews, spreading to all corners of the world beginning with the Diaspora, adapted their recipes to local ingredients and adopted the local fare, often giving it new twists. A historian and a chef, he provides a clear explanation of what makes a dish Jewish and why so many Americans associate Jewish cooking with Eastern European food. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy the more than 500 recipes Marks includes. A wealth of historical and culinary information, as well as photos and drawings, accompany the recipes.

From Publishers Weekly

Developed by Jews dispersed around the globe, Jewish cuisines have been shaped by both adopted cultures and by the laws of kosher. This excellent overview contains such diverse recipes as those for the Ashkenazic classic Roast Chicken and Ethiopian Chicken Stew with hard-boiled eggs. There are kugels galore (Alsatian Pear and Prune Kugel; Ashkenazic Potato Pudding; Indian Rice Pudding), but also Yemenite Spicy Poached Fish and Cochin Fish Soup from the Jews of the Malabar Coast. Marks (a rabbi and former editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine) provides tasty nuggets of intriguing information as well. It is no surprise to find a treatise on bagels (which Marks insists were not named after a Polish prince's stirrups as is often claimed) in a Jewish cookbook, but who knew that a Jewish fish seller first transformed Sephardic Pan-Fried Fish Fillets into fish and chips, or that a Minneapolis Hadassah chapter was behind the introduction of the bundt pan to the U.S.? Plentiful archival photographs and illustrations (showing everything from a Jewish family in Burma in 1938 to a Jewish poultry inspector in 19th-century France) add to the encyclopedic feel of this sweeping effort.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684824914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684824918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a glossy coffee-table book with lots of stylish photographs, this is not for you. That said, it is an attractive book, well laid-out, printed in two colours and illustrated with old engravings and photographs. The illustrations are of people and markets rather than the dishes themselves, which underscore the book's focus on the origins of the dishes and the people who made them.
Marks does a great job of explaining why Jewish food is so diverse and how the Jews adapted their recipes to local ingredients, and also adapted the local recipes to the laws of kashrut. He includes recipes from India, Poland and Morocco, and everywhere in between. For many recipes he includes an anecdote or a little bit of history, which bring the dishes to life.
One of the things this book brought home to me was how important food is in Judaism: everything has a symbolic meaning and you don't eat things just because they taste good, but also because they represent something. At Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, apples dipped in honey represent hopes for a sweet coming year, while the challah (bread) is shaped into a round loaf (instead of being braided as usual) to symbolise the cyclical nature of time. Matzo is eaten at Pesach because when the Jews fled Egypt, they did not have time for their bread dough to rise. Thus at every festival meal the participants are reminded of the meanings of the festival and why it is celebrated.
The recipes themselves are clearly laid out and look easy to follow, although I haven't tried any of them yet. I didn't notice any impossible-to-find ingredients and the techniques are mostly within the average cook's capabilities.
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Format: Paperback
This book is definitely a keeper for anyone interested in the connection between Jewish religion, Jewish culture, and food. The author has done a thorough job of researching the food heritage of different Jewish groups, and really gets in to the nitty-gritty details. Moroccan vs. Yeminite use of spices, for example, or why and how different groups serve chicken on the Sabbath. A truly fascinating, rich piece of history.

That said, sometimes the author tries so hard to be authentic that the resulting food turns out pretty mediocre to the modern palate. Let's face it -- being Ashkanazi in the Middle Ages during the dead of winter left one with few options (perhaps this is why there are so many Sephardic recipes!). A sephardic sweet and sour celery dish was essentially celery boiled in lemony-water, which tastes just about as appetizing as it looked (think pale mushy flavorless celery). A Morrocan Pigon-pie was interesting for its mix of fruit and meat, but really dense and dry. I'm apprehensive about trying many of the Ashkanaz classics, such as gefilte fish and stuffed cabbage, because in comparison with more modern versions these read like they will turn out quite bland and with an undesireably mushy texture. That said, several of his Sephardic dishes have turned out brilliantly and full of flavor, like a Yemenite Chicken stew and several Indian dishes.

All in all, I recommend using this book to get inspired and to explore other Jewish food cultures. However, use your instincts and check out more modern recipes if you're unsure that the final result might be just a conversation piece and not actually yummy.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare and wonderful cookbooks in which everything you make turns out the way you hoped it would. I've made many, if not most, of the recipes in this book, with no disasters, and without my usual fiddlings and substitutions--the recipes are great the way they are. Some of them are the basic Jewish fare--honey cake and potato kugel--and some of them are more exotic Sephardi recipes. They're all delicious. It's also a good read, but primarily I like it because I can pull it out for every Shabbos and find things to make that I know will come out.
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Format: Hardcover
This is absolutely my favorite cookbook. The recipes are simple and delicious and the variations that are included offer even more ways to prepare the same dish. Everything that I have tried from this cookbook has turned out so good and have resulted in some of our favorite dishes.
Rabbi Marks also includes information about spices and vegetables and Jewish culture making the cookbook a fascinating read as well (I actually read the whole cookbook before I even tried any of the recipes!).
It is well worth the money!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great. I'm relatively new to cooking and always thought that stuffed cabbage was something fancy that only grandmothers could make. The book gave clear instructions and helped me to make a delicious stuffed cabbage dinner. I also recommend the Tsimmes.

The book doesn't revolve around holidays and instead focuses on incorporating food from Jews all over the world and at different points in history. In addition to the recipes, it includes jewish history and how it relates to the recipes presented.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book when I was just out of college and, twenty years, four kids and many Shabbatot, later, it's still my favorite.

Whether or not you keep kosher, it has a great selection of recipes -- including standard Ashkenazi favorites popular among most American Jews, but also a huge selection of recipes from around the world, plus pleasant photos and descriptions of the various communities from which they come.

1) The recipes are straightforward and clear.
2) Unless you have a very pedestrian or standard Yeshivish kitchen, you won't have to go anywhere special to get ingredients.
3) I tend to use more of the spices than the recipes call for because my family likes things more flavorful -- it's the same flavors, just a stronger form.
4) Since I started getting ideas from this when I was a young cook, it actually taught me a lot about combining flavors and tastes.
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