The New Jew Canon: The Book of Jewish Food
By Linda Grant / September 22, 2008
The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or email. Title: The Book of Jewish Food … Read More
The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or email.
Ten years ago I was a judge on the Jewish Quarterly Prize. We had two awards to give away, one for a novel, the other for a work of non-fiction. At our very first meeting the non-fiction prize was decided – a landmark work which will still be read in a century and which had taken the author a decade to research. To say that every Jewish home should have a copy of Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food is to do an injustice to the scale of the achievement. The history of the Jews and the Jewish Diaspora told through eating. How much more central to Jewish identity can you get? Roden traces the wanderings of the Jewish people from country to country, bringing with them dishes from the past, which then become incorporated into the new national cuisine. As English as fish and chips? No. The frying of fish and potatoes was brought to London by Portuguese Jews at the end of the nineteenth century. We see how Jews adapted the dietary laws to the locally available ingredients. Quiche Lorraine, made with bacon and cream, was forbidden to French Jews, so they made an onion tart which is now considered to be the traditional dish of Alsace-Lorraine. Locally, it’s known as a Jewish dish. So this is a history book with recipes, beautifully written and illustrated. You can pick it up and read a description of a Jewish community on every page, and learn what they ate, when they ate it and how they prepared it. It sits alongside the Torah and Talmud for me.
Linda Grant was born in Liverpool on 15 February 1951, the child of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. From 1995 to 2000 she was a feature writer for the Guardian. She is the award-winning author of several books, including Sexing the Millennium: A Political History of the Sexual Revolution (1993), The Cast Iron Shore (1996), Remind Me Who I am Again (1998). Her second novel, When I Lived in Modern Times, set in Tel Aviv in the last years of the British Mandate, published in March 2000, won the Orange Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Prize and the Encore Prize. Her novel, Still Here, published in 2002, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her non-fiction work, The People On The Street: A Writer’s View of Israel, published in 2006, won the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage. Most recently, her novel The Clothes On Their Backs (published February 2008) was shortlisted for the Man-Booker prize. She has also contributed to various collections of essays. She lives in North London.
The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or tips. For more New Jew Canon recommendations, visit Jewcy’s New Jew Canon Listmania.
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