Jewish Cuisine: What Makes Traditional Foods Jewish? with Jennifer Abadi

Jewish Cuisine: What Makes Traditional Foods Jewish? with Jennifer Abadi


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According to the Wikipedia dictionary, the word cuisine is defined as “A style of cooking characterized by distinctive ingredients, techniques, and dishes, and usually associated with a specific culture or geographic region. Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region.”

When it comes to the traditional concept of cuisine, historians, food writers, and chefs have often used the term to describe the common cooking methods and ingredients utilized within a country’s borders (such as French, Italian, Turkish, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican) or a general region (Western European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian, Latin American).

But over time the definition has expanded to include cookery styles associated with empires or historical time periods (such as Ottoman, Aztec, Latin American, Early American), religious or cultural groups (Jewish, Arabic, Creole), or even grouped according to food style or diet (haute, vegan, paleo).

Led by Sephardic and Middle Eastern food instructor, Syrian cookbook author, and Jewish recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi, this interactive seminar will teach you how to think about the idea of cuisine differently. Jennifer will tackle the big question of whether there is such a thing as Jewish cuisine, and how trade, kashrut food restrictions, migration, and access to ingredients have influenced the popular recipes of the Jewish communities in the United States, Israel, and the world today.

Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of why particular foods are considered “Jewish,” and how the process of adoption and adaptation of recipes, food styles, and ingredients plays a continuing role in the evolution of Jewish cuisine. This seminar has is designed for adults with a particular interest in food history and anthropology; it is not a family cooking class.

However, what would a Jewish discussion about food be without something to nosh on? Because all this talk is sure to make you hungry, Jennifer recommends that participants bring along their favorite Jewish snack to the conversation (you may even have a nostalgic Jewish food that you would like to show and tell with the group!)

Additional Notes from your Expert:

As part of the broader debate on the topic of what makes a food Jewish, the following more popular dishes will be discussed: albondigas (Sephardic meatballs), ghondi (Persian chickpea dumplings with chicken and cardamom), bourekas (Sephardic pastries stuffed with spinach and cheese), bimuelos (Sephardic fried doughnut balls with sugar), shakshouka (North African tomato and pepper stew), cholent/hamin/adafina (Shabbat stews), potato latkes, gefilte fish, potato knishes, smoked salmon and pickled herring, pastrami, bagels and bialys, black-and-white cookies, macaroons, matzah, and haroset



The following are only optional suggestions of snacks that can be brought to class to make the talk more interactive (and so that participants will not be too hungry!)

The following is a list of optional suggestions to inspire your shopping list: 
  • Soda: Dr. Brown Cel-Ray, black cherry, cream, Dr. Pepper, plain seltzer 
  • Kosher wine, Manischewitz concord wine, or concord grape juice 
  • Bourekas or other mini phyllo-stuffed pastries 
  • Chopped liver with crackers or toasted bread 
  • Hummus and pita 
  • Shakshouka pepper stew (if not homemade then Trader Joe’s now offers this in the freezer section!) 
  • Potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream 
  • Potato knishes with mustard 
  • Bagel or bialy (with or without cream cheese and lox) 
  • Challah with butter 
  • Pastrami sandwich on deli rye with mustard (sauerkraut or coleslaw optional), full sour pickles on the side 
  • Hotdog with mustard and sauerkraut (Hebrew National preferred) 
  • Black-and-white cookies 
  • Bimuelos, doughnut holes, jelly doughnuts 
  • Macaroons 
  • Babka 
  • Rugelach 
  • Halvah 
  • Hamantaschen 
  • Matzah and haroset (matzah style crackers and jam or apple butter also work!)

Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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S
S.b. (Atlanta, US)
Fun talk on foods. better not be hungry

Had attended 4 cooking demos by Jenifer over last year; This was FUN overview. Wife thought it wouldn't be interesting -- sure was. Jenifer did good research for this seminar. Can't wait for more

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
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S
S.b. (Atlanta, US)
Fun talk on foods. better not be hungry

Had attended 4 cooking demos by Jenifer over last year; This was FUN overview. Wife thought it wouldn't be interesting -- sure was. Jenifer did good research for this seminar. Can't wait for more