Jewish food. Everyone has their own special ideas about just what it is. For some, Jewish food is what they had as children, recipes brought from the Old Country by their grandparents and served on holidays. For others, Jewish food is what they buy at a deli, what they eat every Shabbat evening or something they have gleaned from friends, neighbors or modern fusion cookbooks. Jewish food is a cornucopia of taste, memory and culture.
Wherever Jews have lived in the world, we have adopted the local cuisine and adapted it to our holidays, traditions and Kosher laws. This has resulted in an amazing cuisine—rich in flavor, variety, and versatility. Have you ever gone to someone’s house for dinner and enjoyed a tasty meal, then asked for the recipe afterward—taking pride in sharing a family recipe or two? In this era of Covid-19, even though we may not have guests over for dinner, many people have re-discovered their kitchens, whether to try something new, like baking challah, or recreating a favorite family Shabbat dinner. Everyone is looking for new recipes to try.
In addition, the current environment has caused people to look for new ways to connect. In-person get-togethers are almost non-existent and have been replaced by virtual interactions which can be less than satisfying. What better time to launch a new show sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys’ Cultural Arts program called Jewish Cooking Connections? It is a cooking show by and for individuals throughout our valleys.
Each segment of Jewish Cooking Connection will feature familiar faces from throughout our region. We will be going inside home and temple kitchens, sharing a wide variety of Jewish foods from our talented Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi cooks and bakers. Each cook will share their favorite recipe, demonstrating how they make it, including cooking tips as well as telling stories of why this recipe is special to them.
Although it is wonderful to have new recipes to try, perhaps the most engaging facet of this new show will be the story behind the recipe. For example, knowing that this week’s latke recipe has been in someone’s family for generations adds an extra dimension to an otherwise familiar dish. By sharing these stories, we create a deeper connection to others in our community by adding a richer context to the food we are preparing. Who knows, perhaps one family’s latke recipe will become a generational favorite in another family? Additionally, nutritional facts for each recipe will be calculated and provided on our website.
Our first series will focus on specific foods for Jewish holiday celebrations. We all have our favorite recipes that have become an indispensable part of our holiday traditions: Bubbe’s brisket, Aunt Sarah’s tzimmes, you get the idea. For what is a holiday without food? Some of the recipes will be familiar, others, perhaps not. Subsequent series will focus on dishes from specific regions, highlighting Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi cuisine, all prepared by cooks from throughout our region.
We hope you will enjoy learning more about our wonderful international Jewish cuisine and seeing some of your friends and neighbors share their favorite family recipes—and the stories behind them—on Jewish Cooking Connection. Visit our web page often to see what is new and share your thoughts and ideas. All of the recipes—complete with nutritional information—and show videos will be posted on the Jewish Cooking Connection web page on the Jewish Federation’s website, www.jewishsgpv.org.
Stay tuned for more information regarding the premiere of this fun and informative show, guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds!
Lori McKenna is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.