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Dec 31, 2009 01:53 PM

Jewish Menu [moved from Kosher board]

[This topic turned out to be more of a general discussion. Please chime in if you have any ideas for Melly's menu. Thanks. The Chowhound Team]

Doesn't have to be Kosher, but I thought this would be the best board to post this.

I am making a Jewish menu and wondered what you would want to see on it...if you had a Jewish menu to choose from? Appetizers? Entrees? Desserts?

This will be for a large crowd. Thank you very much!

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  1. Wow! melly you are openinig a Pandora Box. To talk about a "Jewish Menu" is as stereotypical as simplifying chinese food and say "chow mein". Beyond the differences between the Ashkenaz and Sepharadic foods, there are wide variations even among them. Just think that while Gefilte Fish might be a standard appetizer for a Jew from central Europe, Don't include it for my brother-in-law from Aleppo :). He might prefer some spinach burrekas. How about the "new Israeli food?" there are books dedicated to it.
    Try to narrow down the crowd and will make your menu easier.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrotmd

      Yes...I know all of that. I am currently cooking and blogging my way thru a Jewish Cookbook right now...and it is filled with all of that fabulous history. I realize that Jews come from all over the world..and their menus reflect that. I appreciate the diversity. No pandoras box ...just some suggestions. Thanks so much! My grandmother was Jewish and from I grew up eating lots of cabbage and pickled dishes.

    2. Is this an American crowd that will expect to see stereotypical Eastern European Jewish foods? Even there, you're way oversimplifying, but I think the average American, to the degree that they think about it, thinks of gefilte fish (please, please don't get the vile jarred stuff), chicken soup with matza balls (the matza ball as a year-round food is actually an American thing, but whatever), brisket, tzimmes, some sort of noodle kugel (usually a cheese one, although it wouldn't be traditional, or kosher, to serve that with chicken soup and brisket), and rugelach. I have to tell you that as someone who keeps a kosher home, I cook almost none of these things at all regularly, but those seem to be what people think of. Is that what you want? There are plenty of traditional foods that haven't seemed to penetrate the general consciousness, and we can make suggestions for something more interesting if you like.

      4 Replies
      1. re: GilaB's an American crowd..but they are all Jewish....or mostly anyway.

        What would you want to see on the menu?....that is the question. I love kishke myself..but many people don't. I love beetroot soup with lamb kibbeh...but then...

        Every Jewish household that I know of keeps some frozen matzo balls and some frozen homemade broth....just in case someone doesn't feel so good.

        1. re: GilaB

          There is such a thing as non-vile jarred gefilte fish, you know. Kedem isn't vile. Noam Gourmet (available at Shoprite in Brooklyn, and in the kosher supermarkets) is actually quite nice. Mother's, on the other hand...the least said about it the better.

          1. re: zsero

            Thank you. I will try to find some Noam Gourmet!

            1. re: melly

              I also enjoy the Yehudah Sweet -

        2. What they said. There really isn't any such thing as "Jewish food". You're going to have to break down the crowd for us a bit. Remember, Jews lived all over the planet at one time or another, and were influenced by their neighbors. You've got North African inspired dishes, Indian inspired dishes, Spanish inspired dishes, Italian inspired dishes, and on and on.

          When most Americans think of stereotypically Jewish food, they're usually thinking specifically of the Eastern European inspired food of some groups of Ashkenazim- Polish and Russian peasant food, in other words. As Gila says, gefilte fish, matza ball soup, roast brisket, tzimmes, and rugelach for desert is probably the safest things we could recomend without knowing any specifics.

          18 Replies
          1. re: The Cameraman

            Brik a L'ouef? Pollo All'ebracia? Green Calcutta Curry with chicken or vegetables? Latkes? Chopped Liver? Lubiya? Doro Wat?

            The question....what would you want to see on a menu? These are all dishes in my Jewish Cooking cookbook...from all over the world.

            1. re: melly

              As an observant Jew who keeps kosher, I don't really want to see 'Jewish food' on a menu. I want something tasty, something surprising and different, whether or not that food was traditional for Jews somewhere in the world. So if I were coming to your gathering, I'd want something new to me, from far, far away from the Eastern European food of my great-grandparents. I'd probably go with traditional foods from one particular region, be it Greece, Iraq, or India, rather than mixing kibbe with green curry.

              But your guests might want brisket. I don't know them, or how adventurous this crowd is. Are they coming in expecting 'Jewish food,' or are you having a party and have decided to theme the menu this way without discussing it with your guests? If you have told them to expect 'Jewish food,' are they the sort of people who will be disappointed by the lack of gefilte fish, or excited to try new things?

              1. re: GilaB

                I am doing a menu for a culinary arts program and they are doing menus from different religions and cultures. They have a restaurant at the school. Jews and non-Jews will eat there.

                There sure are tons and tons of cookbooks with "Jewish Cooking" in the titles. I've also found many, many sites with Jewish Menus so I don't know what all the fuss is about. Just wanted to know what your favorite dish is. If you don't have a favorite "Jewish recipe" then okay. By recipe...I don't want the recipe. I'm about to plotz!

                1. re: melly

                  I think the fuss is that those of us who keep kosher and are also foodies, the kind of people who hang out on Chowhound, are really sick of the gefilte-and-brisket idea of 'Jewish food.' You've inadvertently hit a nerve, that we only see 'our' food represented when the old cliches are hauled out each year for Rosh Hashana, Passover, and maybe a latke article around Chanuka, plus the annual 'kosher-wine-ain't-your-grandpa's-Manischewitz' wine column before Passover. (Really? They're shocked at this discovery each and every year?)

                  Look, I'm from the most common background for an American Jew (a Polish/Russian/Lithuanian mix), so my fondest childhood memories of food that I'd identify as 'Jewish' are of meat tzimmes, chicken soup with lukshen (egg noodles), Pesach sponge cake, stuffed cabbage, blintzes, and lukshen-cheese kugel. Is that what you're looking for? It's not a good set of examples of how I cook now (except the chicken soup every Friday night), although I do make the meat tzimmes for Sukkos, and Pesach sponge for Passover. But they're all pretty classic 'Jewish food.' My mom's best friend, who married into an Egyptian Jewish family, raised kids for whom home-and-family taste like bacalao cakes and kinafa (a syrup-drenched cake with these hairy strands of thin dough on top). Those are quite tasty as well, but not what I personally viscerally think of as 'Jewish food,' even though they're just as Jewish as my tzimmes. That's why we want some guidance.

                  1. re: GilaB

                    I never mentioned Brisket or gefilte fish! I asked what I thought was a simple question but guess not. I happen to love holishkes and I do think they are "foodie" worthy.

                    I shall google away and see what I can find. I don't want to do a menu that "stereotypes" Jews or Jewish cuisine. Sheesh!

                  2. re: melly

                    Don't take it the wrong way. i don't think anybody is trying not to be nice. It is important to point out that the "Jewish Food" label is a bit no broad... Some people feel that the official food of Israel is falafel. The less sterile the falafel joint, the better! Most Jewish menus are holiday specific; even in this forum. Dairy menus for Shavout, Latkes and sufganiyot for Chanuka and of course matzah for passover. The new year has the apples and honey...

                    1. re: mrotmd

                      I did mention these: Brik a L'ouef? Pollo All'ebracia? Green Calcutta Curry with chicken or vegetables? Latkes? Chopped Liver? Lubiya? Doro Wat?

                      I am on the wrong board. Sorry.

                      1. re: melly

                        I think you must be on the wrong board, because people are trying to answer you, but you're not listening. Your original question was what we would want to see on a Jewish menu. Person after person said that almost anything can be "Jewish" and wanted you to be more specific in your request, while offering some suggestions, but all you kept saying was, "Fine . . . just tell me what you want to see on a Jewish menu." The question is really not much different than asking "What do you like to eat?" It's far too general and unfocused a question.

                          1. re: melly

                            I have read all the threads, and i see you keep asking the same questions-

                            "I did mention these: Brik a L'ouef? Pollo All'ebracia? Green Calcutta Curry with chicken or vegetables? Latkes? Chopped Liver? Lubiya? Doro Wat?"

                            I am an English transplant here, and the only one of the above I have ever heard of is Latkes and Chopped liver. I think the problem with a cookbook such as 'Jewish Food from around the World' is very country specific. For example, my friends parents are from Calcutta, so he grew up likely eating the curry thing described. However, if you wanted a review on that item you would need to find more Jews from the same background he is.
                            We are directing you with what WE think of as Jewish food, which is the brisket/ tzimmes fare.
                            Unfortunately, some of the recipes you mentioned are probably from people who are no longer in their home country so don't make it anymore, or, if they do it very probable that its not main stream 'Jewish Cuisine'. Take the Pollo All'ebracia- I am assuming Spanish? So, there are very few Jews left in Spain. Perhaps they make this, but this is not a dish I am familiar with, so maybe this book has taken dishes from long ago and recreated them somehow.
                            Perhaps for your course you could simply do a 'Jewish Foods from Around the World Theme' and utilise the items listed above?

                            1. re: marissaj

                              Jewish food for me growing up secular in Brooklyn the 50's & 60's was the Lobster Cantonese on Sunday nights

                              1. re: berel

                                berel, a sincere question after looking at your recent posts. It appears that many (all?) cuisines - Thai and Chinese at a minimum - can be prepared kosher. Does that mean that such foods then become Jewish foods?

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  you tell me.

                                  IMHO the real Jewish foods are Matzah wine ,olive oil, goats milk and date honey and the rest of the Sheva miniim, everything else we picked up in our Golus wanderings

                                  1. re: berel

                                    So that seems like a perfect response to the OP.

                                  1. re: berel

                                    No spareribs? My family is Jewish and we ate a lot of shrimp in lobster sauce when we lived/visited Queens.

                                    1. re: berel

                                      I think you and I must have lived in the same neighborhood at the same time, berel!

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