It’s the time of the year when we begin to talk about oil. Not just the kind that heats homes, but the kind that burned in the Tabernacle of the Temple—that is, olive oil.
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?
Long ago, a few Jewish foods made themselves an indispensable part of the way Americans eat. So thorough was their assimilation that their popularity swiftly overshadowed their cultural origins. (These days, who thinks “Jewish” when they reach for their bagel and schmear?)