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Jun 23, 2011 05:44 PM

Jewish Food [split from Manhattan]

(Note: this thread was split from a discussion of Jewish food available in Manhattan at: -- The Chowhound Team )

Would like to know if there is Catholic food or Lutheran food or Baptist food?
Jewish is a religion. The food is Eastern European (German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian)...some Kosher some not.

There are plenty of Jews in Australia...started arriving in 1788.

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  1. So you object to an entire genre of cookbook? I get that this post was poorly/awkwardly worded, but the best thing to do is to send the OP to where they can taste first hand how diverse Jewish cooking can be. It's not simply Eastern European food, and some of it is uniquely Jewish in heritage.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sugartoof

      Yes, and everyone knows what the OP means by "Jewish food"...taking someone to task for this is just silly. There are distinctly Jewish foods among Eastern European countries that cut across geographic barriers...just as the Yiddish language did, even though each country has its own language as well.

    2. As a Jew, I can tell you that I take no offense in "Jewish food". Being Jewish is more than a religious affilitation. A big part of our lives surrounds holiday and celebrations and foods are integral part of it. A really interesting book/cookbook is Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America. The origin of so many dishes I grew up eating are explained in the context of Jewish immigrants coming to this wonderful country.

      New York is the best place to find "Jewish Food" in the US. Once you have the smoked fish from Russ and Daughters or a pastrami sandwich from Katz's you'll be hooked.

      1. no. the word single word "jewish" has two separate references, one is a religion, the other is an ethnicity. (im sick of having to explain this over and over again) i wish there were 2 words, i really do, as i am ethnically jewish, and an atheist. this is why you have lapsed catholics, and ex protestants, but no ex-jews.

        but even were that not the case, unlike catholics, baptists, and lutherans, the jewish religion has strict dietary laws, which shape and constrain the food, so there is jewish food.

        6 Replies
        1. re: thew

          For some reason, when people write about "Jewish" food, they usually don't think about Mediterranean influence (the Sephardic tradition)..."Jewish" is so often linked to the Ashkenaziac heritage...

          1. re: penthouse pup

            ""Jewish" is so often linked to the Ashkenaziac heritage..."

            People do often make that mistake, but it's in part because seeking out Sephardic cuisine in New York isn't as easy. A lot of the food traditions are overshadowed by their host countries cuisine. There are more and more cookbooks paying great attention to some wonderful non-Ashkenazic dishes though.

            1. re: sugartoof

              It's easier to find Sephardic/middle eastern "Jewish" food in the outer boroughs...

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                Without a doubt, but I don't know of a single Iraqi Jewish, or Jewish South American, or Indian restaurant anywhere in New York. A few dishes might appear on a menu, but that's about it for a lot of regional styles.

            2. re: penthouse pup

              this is not necessarily going to help the OP find "jewish food" in nyc but i HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend claudia rodan's "the book of jewish food" as it provides some really great context to the typical american picture of jewish food which is so heavily shaded by the cultural dominance of ashkenazic/european traditions, She includes recipes from all over the mediterreanean and even indian jewish traditions, with great stories and history to accompany them.

            3. Jewish is not only a religion....

              "Jewish food" can be European, Greek, Italian, middle eastern.....because Jews were/are a migratory people...

              1. As far as I'm aware, being Jewish is not just a religion but a cultural identity recognised throughout the world. It would seem many of the people on this board seem to agree. Of course I'm no expert - which is why I've asked for advice on this message board.

                Of course there are Jews in Australia, but not very many at all. I have only met one in my life when I lived in Melbourne. Contrast that to the amount of people I know who are Greek, Italian and Indian (and the corresponding amounts of restaurants in Australia - or Queensland where I live). That is because there are much larger amounts of those people in Australia. In the last 15 years there has been an influx of African (mainly Sudanese) immigrants into Brisbane and there have been a few African restaurants that have sprung up in Moorooka as a result which has been great.

                Thanks for your link to the website. There appears to be no Jewish restaurants in Queensland (where Brisbane is - my hometown) only a deli or two that sells kosher products. There seem to be a few restaurants and cafes in Melbourne and Sydney which I might have to check out on my next trip there but Brisbane is a long way from those cities.

                The reason I want to seek out this cuisine in NY is because it is something you do not get very much in Australia and I'm interested in trying new things on my trip across the US. I've also heard it's delicious.

                7 Replies
                1. re: brisfood

                  Absolutely, it's a heritage. For the many of us from Jewish families that no longer practice religion.

                  The food comes from where people come from.

                  Most Jewish immigrants to the US came between the late 1880s (when the Russian tsars passed laws barring Jews from living and working in cities) and 1914, when the door closed because of World War I.

                  Although there have been more recent waves of immigrants (Soviet Jews in the 70s for example and some Jews from Arab countries), that's the core of American Jewish culinary heritage: Ashkenazi foods, interpreted for American tastes through the 50s or 60s and happily finding a recent revival with places like Kenny and Zuke's (Portland) and Wise Sons (San Francisco) that use high-quality meats.

                  1. re: Windy

                    I think New York is the best place in the US to find great Jewish food. Save up your calories for a pastrami sandwich at Katz's.

                    1. re: Windy

                      you're missing out on a major wave - just prior to, and just after WW2 when jews were anxious to get out of europe

                      1. re: thew

                        Not at all. Almost none of those Jews got visas. Of the few that escaped Europe, most went to countries outside North America.

                        During each war, immigration for everyone dropped to a trickle; between the wars, it was only slightly better. The visa situation was eased after WWII by fiance and marriage visas for soldiers (but this comes too late for European Jews). The next significant opening isn't until major immigration reform in the late 60s.

                        The numbers are tiny though compared to 1904.

                        I've been to Katz's (and was born in NYC). The pastrami is fine, but the rest of it doesn't compare to great deli food from my childhood.

                        1. re: Windy

                          well lucky for me all of my family, and most of their friends, were some of the almost none.

                            1. re: Windy

                              they came after the war. not as lucky as you think