Honey is potent stuff in the Jewish world. Since ancient times, it has been a powerful trope for love, hope and promise, and it is the key ingredient of the iconic honey cake, which retains its High Holiday status to this day.
For years, falafel was Israel’s iconic food, its global culinary ambassador. But in recent years, another Israeli dish with working-class roots has become a major player in the game of street-food diplomacy: the savory tomato and egg mixture called shakshuka.
Sodom and Gomorrah are burning, and the people are fleeing. Amidst the chaos, one disobedient refugee makes a fatal mistake. Lot’s wife turns back to gaze upon the ruins of her city—and meets swift retribution. In an instant, she is turned into a pillar of salt.
When Brent Delman was growing up in Cleveland, his culturally Jewish family, like their Eastern European forebears, ate lots of soft, fresh cheese—cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese—without worrying much about whether it was kosher. After all, cheese is just curdled milk, and as long as it’s not eaten with meat, what could be treif about it?
Growing up by the sea in Belle Harbor, New York, five decades ago, I never heard of a Hanukkah doughnut. In my Ashkenazi family, Hanukkah fare was potato latkes, served with sour cream and my mother’s freshly made applesauce, or as an accompaniment to brisket.
In Genesis, God granted humans dominion over animals. In modern times, that dominion has spawned one of the planet’s biggest threats: a livestock industry that spews greenhouse gases, guzzles resources and renders the lives of billions of animals brutish and short. Last August, vexed by the problem, a Dutch physiologist named Mark Post came up with a solution: a burger no cow had to die for. He called it the “test-tube burger.”
Among the trendy ingredients today’s chefs are adding to their repertoires, paprika is the latest darling. Cooks either sprinkle the bright red spice—made of dried and ground red chili peppers—on top of their creations or swirl it with oil to add a crimson hue.
While cheesecake has long been popular among Jews with a sweet tooth, the creamy, rich indulgence is now as American as apple pie, a symbol of how thoroughly Jews have integrated into American life. As cookbook author Joan Nathan says, “Jews like cheesecake because they like to eat good rich dishes, even if they shouldn’t”—but then again, who doesn’t?