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eGCI Demo series: Jewish Foods

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Welcome to the eGCI Demo series on Jewish Foods. The demonstrations will be posted in the Cooking forum, with an index here.

The Instructor

Pamela Reiss (aka Pam R) grew up in her parents' company, learning all she could about kosher catering. After attending the University of Minnesota (Crookston) and earning a bachelor's degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, Pam returned home to work in the family business, Desserts Plus. She quickly combined her interest in devising recipes with her love of writing to create Soup - A Kosher Collection -- her first kosher cookbook.

Pam continues to work in Desserts Plus, though it's changed over the years: in addition to catering, it now includes a specialty kosher food store that supplies kosher ingredients to customers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Pam writes a bi-weekly recipe column in the Jewish Post and News (Winnipeg) and a monthly column in Around The Corner Magazine (New Jersey). Her recipes have been published in the Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and Canadian Living Magazine. She plans to put together an entire series of kosher cookbooks -- from soups to desserts.

The Series: Jewish Foods

by Pamela Reiss

As somebody once famously said (and has often been quoted), if you ask two Jews one question, you'll receive three answers. Nowhere is this truer than in the kosher/Jewish kitchen. If you do a search on any Jewish food, you'll find that recipes are plentiful -- and many of them are very different.

There are many foods that I consider to be "Jewish" foods, but most are really just Jewish variations of foods from other lands. As a people, the Jews have lived across the globe, so much of our food history is influenced by the various communities we lived in (though it also worked in the reverse). The differences in the Jewish versions stemmed primarily from the limited variety in kosher meats and seafood and the prohibition of mixing milk and meat in one meal.

Families that hail from North Africa, Southwest Asia and Southern Europe have generally used more spices and the vegetables native to their regions. Families (like mine) from Russia and Eastern Europe have diets heavy in traditional foods of the region -- perogies, cabbage rolls, etc. To you it may be a perogy, but in my kosher kitchen it's a vereneke (potato perogy) or a kreple (cheese or meat perogy). Potato pancake? No -- that’s a latke.

Then there are some items that I think of as ours alone. Sure, they may be similar to a food of another culture -- but it was the Jewish people that brought these items to the world. Bagels, kugels, matzo balls and knishes are some of these famously "Jewish" foods. One might think that a bagel is a bagel, a knish is a knish. Ah ha! One would be wrong. There are so many varieties and geographical differences in these foods that there could be (and probably are or will be) books dedicated to each single item.

In these demonstrations, I'll present some of the preparations of these "Jewish foods." I'd love input and I'd also love it if people would post their versions of recipes for these dishes. For some, I'll give more than one preparation; for others it'll just be the one I like the best. If you have questions, please ask. I don't claim to know all the answers -- but there are so many knowledgeable members of the eGullet Society that I'm sure an answer will be found.

To quote my grandmother: "Ess, ess!" (Eat, eat)

Index of demos:

Knishes (topic started Jan. 26, 2006)

Chicken Soup (topic started June 26, 2006)

Meat Kreplach (topic started June 26, 2006)

Sufganiyot (topic started Nov. 29)

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