Thursday, January 1, 2015

News About Jews You Can Use: Gil Marks and the Holy Stomach, Plus the Kugel Maven

This is actually a very nicely written piece about Jews and food and I certainly learned a few things from reading it. 

Jewish food is varied and is not just Ashkenazi (i.e Gefilte fish). I had some very strange food deja vu moments when I went to Poland with my Dad, strange, familiar moments. It was really like being fed by my grandparents.

When I went to Israel and started to meet Jews from Arab/Muslim countries and from Europe and South America, I also got introduced to their food specialities. One of my absolute favourite dishes is an Iraqi-Kurdish Jewish soup-red Kubbeh.

I also love all the little salad appetizers that most Sephardic families put on the table before Shabbat or festive meals and I just learned how to make Matbucha-it came out great.

I can't do the traditional Persian foods but I did learn how to make some of their fancy rice dishes, using   black eyed peas, carrots, almond shavings, etc...

Here's another cute piece on the same subject that I read yesterday-the Kugel Maven. 

A sample:

"In 2014, I joined an organized trip to the Pale of Settlement to explore the origins of Ashkenazi foodways. Specifically, I went in search of my family’s heritage, to see where my family came from; I went to find my culinary birthright. “Four hours by horse from Minsk,” jokes my father’s Cousin Lou about the distance to my family’s ancestral shtetl of Lekhovich, a Belarusian town 140 miles due south of Vilna."
(My Bubbie's shtetl was 3 hours by horse to Bialystock.) 
"In this picturesque town, surrounded by lush green fields, with an apple orchard a stone’s throw from the market square, there are few signs of a Jewish past: two monuments recognizing the Jewish victims of the Shoah, a department store in a former beis midrash, and a canning factory has replaced the Great Shul. Though I found no answers there to my kugel queries—indeed, I didn’t find any dish there resembling a kugel—I did find them east of Bialystok in Krynki, a town where nine of out 10 people were Jews before the Holocaust."
(Pretty much echoes my trip exactly, same feeling of familiarity, observance of the lushness of the land, the total absence of Jews, a strong and heavy presence of loss, the works...)

"In the middle of Krynki was a small restaurant serving made-to-order pierogen and other Polish staples, including babka ziemniaczana. This was not the layered chocolate or cinnamon confection you think of when you think of babka. This was a potato and onion pudding: a kugel."