All we know about Esther Levy is that her maiden name was Jacobs, and she was probably a native Philadelphian. Her recipes show strong German influence, with some English touches, which would have been typical of her fellow Pennsylvanians and contemporary cooking experts. Her English is flawless, while her Hebrew seems nonexistent. Some of the Hebrew names in the Jewish Calendar section are almost unrecognizable. At that time, it was not unusual for Orthodox Jewish families to allow their daughters only the minimum education required for a future wife, such as Jewish dietary laws and ritual bathing.
Jewish Cookery Book: On Principles of Economyby Esther Levy
This marvelous culinary historical volume provides housekeeping and household-management advice as well as daily menu suggestions. Originally published in 1871, it was written to help new immigrants adapt to life in the New World while maintaining their religious heritage; and it even includes a Jewish calendar as well as recipes for home doctoring. Levy’s cookbook follows Jewish law regarding cooking for the Sabbath, Passover, and other Jewish holidays; and it provides great detail about how to organize the household, and what steps to follow in conducting Jewish activities. The medicinal recipe section provides recipes for various ailments as well as cautions for visiting the sick. The book offers practical, down-to-earth advice for American-born Jews who did not have the benefit of a traditional Jewish education.
This facsimile edition of Esther Levy's Jewish Cookery Book was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.
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