Jewish cooking is a combination of the cooking styles from the many countries where Jews have lived through the centuries. Ashkenazi Jews are the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe (France, Germany, Poland, etc.), while Sephardic Jews are the Jews of the Mediterranean countries (Portugal, Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East.) Jewish cooking shows the influence of either German and Eastern European styles of cooking, or Middle Eastern and the Mediterranean, modified by the dietary restriction of the Jewish laws governing food consumption.
Many of the foods that are thought to be Jewish are not unique to Jewish culture. Stuffed cabbage, considered a traditional Jewish dish, is common all throughout Europe. Blintzes and knishes are familiar to all Germans, while falafel and hummus, increasingly thought of as Israeli foods, are generally Middle Eastern. Staying on the subject of Italian cooking, we can go through books on Jewish cooking, like for example “Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen” by Joyce Goldstein, to see how much “typical Jewish cooking” is also traditional Italian.
When Ashkenazi Jews from Poland, Russia, and other Eastern European countries came to the U.S. in great numbers, they settled mostly in New York City. They set up restaurants and markets, and Ashkenazi food habits became identified in the U.S. as typical Jewish cooking. Kugel is a dish of Eastern European origin with innumerable variations. The word is normally translated as “pudding,” not in the sense of a jelly type of dessert, but in the sense of a soft food compound. Kugel can be an entrée, a side dish, or a dessert. There are kugel casseroles of potatoes, onions and eggs. As a dessert, Kugel is made with noodles, and you will find hundreds of different recipes, each one using a variety of different ingredients and spices.
Judy will share with us her simple and delicious family recipe.