This collection of recipes, anecdotes and memoirs collected from the students of the senior English as a Second Language classes of the Jewish Family Service in Santa Clara County, Calif., is a treat. The abundant text-stories and reminiscences-is warm and engaging. The recipes, too, although full of misordered ingredients and mysterious directions a recipe for strudel cavalierly instructs, "Make a chain of filling across the top of the dough and roll dough over filling" and far from professional, reveal much about the contributors. Many people recall the long lines and lack of goods in the former Soviet Union; their recipes paint a picture of people who knew how to make something out of almost nothing, with results such as a broth-like yogurt concoction called Tanov Armenian Soup and Carrot Pancakes made with farina. Family photographs and such folk tidbits as "The Kugel Song" in Yiddish and a list of Russian proverbs ``Don't hang noodles on my ears!'' and their English equivalents ``I wasn't born yesterday'' are lots of fun. Feb.
Much more than a cookbook, this is an oral history with recipes that started out as a writing project for students of the senior English as a Second Language (ESL) program of the Jewish Family Service of Santa Clara-and "took on a life of its own." The contributors, Russian Jews in their seventies and eighties, are all recent immigrants. The stories they relate about their lives in the former Soviet Union are riveting and often shattering-they include the Revolution, pogroms, murdering bandits, the siege of Leningrad, and escape from Armenia-yet there are happy memories as well. With hunger and starvation almost a leitmotif, the recipes sometimes seem an ironic subsidiary, and editor Sogolow had her own doubts about combining these narratives with something "so mundane" as recipes. But she concluded that "life did go on," which is the point of this collection. The recipes are for simple fare, regional Russian dishes, and traditional Jewish ones, too, with favorite treats remembered from special occasions. Recommended for both history and cookery collections.