Jewish cookery

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Like every other cookery tradition, Jewish cookery is marked indelibly by the histor of the people who created it. Unlike others, however, the Jewish one is stamped by the influence of life lived not in one, but in many coutries, and by the influence of a religion to which its ahderents have tenaciously clung through eras of hardship and persecution. The recipes in this chapter reflect both these influences. Hence the fish fried in oil and eaten cold, that is commonplace in Spain and Portugal, and the gefillte fish beloved by Poles, have become traditional sabbath fare in Jewish homes. In the same way, the recipes for sweet and sour soups and stews have been culled from Germany and Austria, the chopped herring from Lithuania and the butter cake from Holland. Honey cake is eaten at New Year to symbolize the hope of a sweet future. At Chanukah, when Jews celebrate the courageous victories of their ancestors, the Maccabeans, over the formidable Antiocus, who sought to attack their religious freedom, grated potato latkes are prepared along with other festive fare. A large number os special recipes have been developed for the festival of Passover, when only unleavened flour may be utilized in all cooking. This custom celebrates the escape of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, when they left in such a hurry that they had no time to leaven their bread which they baken on their backs as they went.

But it is not only during Passover that the Jewish housewife is restricted in the food she may use. Religious laws state that Jews may only eat from animals that chew the cud and have cloven hoofs, and from fish that has fins and scales. Thus pigs, rabbits and shell-fish are forbidden. Hindquarter meat, scavengers and birds of prey are alos prohibited. Further, meat must be rendered fit and proper for eating by the removal of all the blood. This is achieved by a special method of slaughtering in which the jugular vein is severed. The housewife removes all the remaining blood, by the process of soaking in cold water and salting known as "koshering".

According to another dietary law, meat may not be cooked with milk nor, generally speaking, eaten at the same meal. Because she is limited by religion in the foods she may use for cooking, and becasue in the past this limitation has been magnified by the sufferings of the Jewish people in the lands where they sojourned, the Jewish housewife has been forced tocook creatively to gain variety. The result is a rich tradition from which a few samples are given in this section. Origin: Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book Shared by: Sharon Stevens.

Submitted By SHARON STEVENS On 10-15-94

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