Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York

Overview

A monumental work--the story of the Jewish people told through the story of Jewish cooking--The Book of Jewish Food traces the development of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish communities and their cuisine over the centuries. The 800 magnificent recipes, many never before documented, represent treasures garnered bu Roden through nearly 15 years of traveling around the world. 50 photos & illustrations.
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Overview

A monumental work--the story of the Jewish people told through the story of Jewish cooking--The Book of Jewish Food traces the development of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish communities and their cuisine over the centuries. The 800 magnificent recipes, many never before documented, represent treasures garnered bu Roden through nearly 15 years of traveling around the world. 50 photos & illustrations.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This James Beard award-winning cookbook offers a far-reaching history of the Jewish people as told through their foods. Filled with original recipes from Jewish communities from every corner of the world, A Book of Jewish Food is essential to an understanding of Jewish cooking and rituals of eating. Another necessary element of any cookbook library.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As the biblical echo of the title indicates, this collection is as instructive and comprehensive as a textbook. Roden (Mediterranean Cookery, etc.) divides the territory in two parts: "The Ashkenazi World" and "The Sephardi World." She chronicles the lives of Jews all over the world in short segments on unusual Jewish communities past and present, such as those of Salonika, Greece, and China. These sections, and the many other notes on subjects ranging from the New York Deli to salt herring are gems. Recipes are numerous and diverse: Yellow Split Pea Soup with Frankfurters, Pumpkin Tzimmes, Small Red Kidney Beans with Sour Plum Sauce, Cold Stuffed Vine Leaves, and Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce. Some highlights include the chapter on Sephardic breads (Algerian Anise Bread, North African Sweet Breads with Nuts and Raisins) and the one on Ashkenazic desserts (Mandelbrot, Hanukah Jam Doughnuts). All of this can be a little overwhelming at times (and, as Roden acknowledges in the introduction, many Jewish foods simply reflected the cuisines of the places where Jews were living rather than their own specific culture). Yet with few omissions (e.g., the instructions for making pasta specify rolling out the dough "as thin as possible" but don't explain how), Roden proves a practiced, reliable guide. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Roden (Good Food of Italy, LJ 10/15/90) is an authority on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. Her exhaustively researched and impressive new book is obviously a labor of love. Born in Egypt, she offers a wide-ranging exploration of Jewish culture and food, with more than 800 recipes from Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews all over the world. She begins with an extensive introductory section on Jewish identity, kosher laws, biblical history, and holy and holidays, then deals separately with Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Faced with dozens of versions of both traditional and unusual dishes from different communities, she sought to present the best, whether from a scholar in the Middle East or from a housewife in London; for some dishes, however, she gives more than one recipe, along with variations. The text is packed with sidebars and boxes on cultural history, culinary anthropology, and other relevant topics. Other good books on Jewish cooking that appeared recently include Gil Mark's The World of Jewish Cooking (LJ 9/96) and Robert Sternberg's The Sephardic Kitchen (LJ 9/96), but Roden's is a far more ambitious work, invaluable as both a cookbook and a reference. Essential.
Library Journal
The well-known author of The Book of Jewish Food and other works on Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, Roden calls her first cookbook, A Book of Middle Eastern Food (1972), a "labor of love" as it focused on the cooking of her native Egypt and its neighbors. Now she has revised, updated, and expanded that work, rectifying oversights and omissions. Because of the increasing interest in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, many ingredients unknown or unobtainable in 1972 can now be included, allowing her to provide more authentic versions of traditional dishes. Her ambitious new edition includes 800 recipes and variations, as well as historical background, an introduction to essential ingredients and regional dietary practices, folktales, and a vast amount of other information. An essential purchase. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394532585
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 177,051
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Introduction

Is there such a thing as Jewish food? After years of researching the subject, I can say that each region or country has its own particular Jewish dishes and these are sometimes quite different from the local cuisine. Jews have adopted the foods of the countries they lived in, but in every country their cooking has had a special touch and taste and characteristic features and some entirely original dishes which have made it distinctive and recognizable.

There was always, even centuries ago, a touch of otherness in Jewish cooking, a cosmopolitanism which broke even through ghetto walls... Before the days of mass communication, Jews had their own network of communication. The vehicles of gastronomic knowledge were merchants and peddlers, traveling rabis, preachers and teachers, students and cantors, professional letter carriers, beggars who were legion, and pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land.

Dishes are important because they are a link with the past, a celebration of roots, a symbol of continuity. They are that part of an immigrant culture which survives the longest, kept up even when clothing, music, language,a nd religious observance have been abandoned. Although cooking is fragile because it lives in human activity, it isn't easily destroyed. It is transmitted in every family like genes, and it has the capacity for change and for passing on new experience from one generation to another."

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2000

    Great Reading and Recipes that Work

    I love this book! First, you can sit down and just read this cookbook. Second, the recipes are for real, really good, Jewish food. That is to say, there are not unnecessary steps or ingredients, and everything I've tried cooks up nicely, has tasted 'authentic' and has been well received by old, young, and even the old-fashioned in my family (just show them the photos in the book if they say it doesn't taste traditional!)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2006

    My favorite cookbook of all

    This book is a treasure. I will at times read it just for the history of a food. The recipes are wonderful. The book is soulful and truely connects heritage and people through the stomach. This book is also one of my standard wedding gifts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2005

    THE best Jewish cookbook

    This is hands down THE best and only Jewish cookbook you will ever need. I am SO happy to have my copy. I have spent so much time browsing online and in the retail store to find the best Jewish cookbook and this is it! There is fancy AND easy to make comfort food in this cookbook. The book is so well organized and the stories and antecdotes along with the recipes make this a priceless treasure. Treat yourself to this book! It would also be an excellent wedding or shower gift for a new jewish bride.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2000

    Wonderful way to relate jewish history throughout recipes

    ´The natural way found by claudia roden to relate jewish history by recipes is a wonderfull surprise. May I have the information if there is any published edition of this book in French ?? That would be to my father, a Tunisian who immigrated to France in early 60ies and to Brazil in early 70ies where we live in a sephardic community in southern Brazil. Thanks a lot for having given this book to the cookery world and all jewish history lovers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    Expected More

    Had I seen this book I would not have purchased it. Perhaps more history would have made it more interesting.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    great read

    The book was a great read and very informative. It provides insight into the traditional foods I eat on Shabbos and holidays. The author also explores the ingredients through history, to show how the recipes came about. Although it's rich with sephardic recipes, it's lacking in ashkenaz recipes - I was hoping the book would be divided evenly. Since there aren't that many ashkenaz recipes, it's lacking on the end of providing the deep-rooted ashkenaz recipes used today. Overall, though, it's an excellent cookbook as it gives insight into how the recipes came about. And is a great book - not just a cookbook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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