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by Diane Leach

10 Apr 2015


“Jews have always been known for their moderation in drinking alcohol.”
Claudia Roden, “Wine in the Jewish World”, The Book of Jewish Food

“Don’t worry, your Jewish blood will get you through. “
—Caroline Knapp’s maternal Jewish Uncle, on her admission of alcoholism, Drinking: A Love Story

“How can you tell the Jews from the non-Jews leaving the theatre? The Jews are saying: Oh my God, I’m starving. Let’s go the deli. Let’s get some cake.  The non-Jews are saying, let’s go the bar and get a drink.”
—Comedian Jackie Mason

Jeff and Jodie Morgan, authors of The Covenant Kitchen, aren’t suggesting Jews surrender their historically abstemious attitudes toward drink.  However, the owners of Berkeley, California’s kosher Covenant Winery do wish we’d drink more wine with our dinner. Hence, The Covenant Kitchen, a collection of kosher meals and wine pairings for “the new Jewish table”.

by Diane Leach

5 Mar 2015


Eugenia Giobbi Bone grew up in a household where good cooking was the norm. Her father, artist and cookbook author Edward Giobbi, is an avid preserver whose home-canned foods were part of the daily diet. Bone began canning when she was eight months pregnant with her second child. She recounts this experience in Well-Preserved. Published in 2009, Well-Preserved is an invaluable modern manual dedicated to small batch preservation.

Like many cooks, I am both drawn to and terrified of canning. Bone’s friendly, no-nonsense explanation of spoilers and how to prevent them quelled those fears. But it was this sentence that truly liberated my inner canner: “Cleanliness is always important. Not fanatical cleanliness, just washing-your-hands-after-riding-the-subway sort of cleanliness.”

by Diane Leach

25 Feb 2015


“I need a cigar,” I said to the tobacconist. 

He gestured toward a locked cabinet. Behind its glass doors, cigars were arrayed floor to ceiling. The chocolate truffle recipe called for an inch of cigar, preferably Cuban, infused in heavy cream. Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States. I could choose a cheap cigar stinking through the glass like hell’s own aftershave, or do the bling thing and blow 30 bucks.  Aiming for middle ground, I spent $9. 

“For your husband?”  The man asked, ringing me up.

“For a recipe.”

What?

by Diane Leach

22 Jan 2015


Readers demand far more from modern cookbooks than just useful recipe collections. Authors must be Personalities, expertly ushering readers through a dish’s every possible nuance. We turn to cookbooks for lifestyle advice on diet, decor, and entertaining. Increasingly, cookbooks are art objects, brimming with gorgeous photography. Authors like Naomi Duguid, Claudia Roden, and Paula Wolfert publish meticulously researched cookbooks delving deeply into various cultures through food. 

Atop this sits the world of social media. It’s no longer possible to publish a cookbook without a website, a blog, a twitter feed, a Facebook page. 

What, then, defines a good cookbook?

by Diane Leach

19 Dec 2014


With Jewish Soul Food, Israeli food editor and cookbook author Janna Gur hoped to create “a kind of greatest hits from our Jewish grandmothers.” Yet a book about Jewish soul food was problematic, for the very people who produced these iconic dishes—the bubbes (plural Yiddish for grandmother) were no longer available for consultation. Theirs was a generation that cooked by hand and eye, writing nothing down. Their grandchildren, now adults, want to recreate the meals of their childhoods but cannot. Nobody knows how. The recipes, sadly, died with the grandmothers.

Gur’s exact words are: “the grandmother is gone.” In the case of Jewish Soul Food, this is a mixed blessing. Good because no Ashkenazi grandmothers are around to shri (shriek) at the liberties Gur takes with classic recipes. Bad because they aren’t around to set her straight.

//Mixed media
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