Anybody know of a good Deli? Worries go down better with soup than without.

Anybody know of a good Deli? Worries go down better with soup than without.

No truer words have been said. I would also like to add that if can’t be put between two pieces of bread, it’s likely not worth eating. Todays blog is about Jewish Cuisine. There is a lot to be said about the food, culture and lore of Judaism. I was fortunate to work in an Orthodox Jewish Restaurant at one time, and learned to appreciate the diversity of the faith and culture. To this day, I would drive well out of my way for good deli!! So lets have a look at a little history, some examples of the cuisine, and how it all fits together on the menu.

Jewish cuisine refers to the cooking traditions of the Jewish people worldwide. It has evolved over many centuries, shaped by Jewish dietary laws (kashrut), Jewish festival and Shabbat (Sabbath) traditions. Jewish cuisine is influenced by the economics, agriculture and culinary traditions of the many countries where Jewish communities have settled and varies widely throughout the whole world.

The history of Jewish cuisine begins with the cuisine of the ancient Israelites. As the Jewish diaspora grew, different styles of Jewish cooking developed. The distinctive styles in Jewish cuisine are AshkenaziSephardiMizrahiPersianYemeniteIndian and Latin American. There are also dishes from Jewish communities from Ethiopia to Central Asia.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and particularly since the late 1970s, a nascent Israeli “fusion cuisine” has developed. Jewish Israeli cuisine has adapted a multitude of elements, overlapping techniques and ingredients from many diaspora culinary traditions.

Using agricultural products from dishes of one Jewish culinary tradition in the elaboration of dishes of others, as well as incorporating and adapting various other Middle-Eastern dishes from the local non-Jewish population of the Land of Israel (which had not already been introduced via the culinary traditions of Jews which arrived to Israel from the various other Arab countries), Israeli Jewish cuisine is both authentically Jewish (and most often kosher) and distinctively local “Israeli”, yet thoroughly hybridized from its multicultural diasporas’ Jewish origins.

The laws of keeping kosher (kashrut) have influenced Jewish cooking by prescribing what foods are permitted and how food must be prepared. The word kosher is usually translated as “proper”.

Certain foods, notably pork and shellfish, are forbidden; meat and dairy may not be combined and meat must be ritually slaughtered and salted to remove all traces of blood.

Observant Jews will eat only meat or poultry that is certified kosher. The meat must have been slaughtered by a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in accordance with Jewish law and is entirely drained of blood. Before it is cooked, it is soaked in water for half an hour, then placed on a perforated board, sprinkled with coarse salt (which draws out the blood) and left to sit for one hour. At the end of this time, the salt is washed off and the meat is ready for cooking.

Today, kosher meats purchased from a butcher or supermarket are usually already koshered as described above and no additional soaking or salting is required.

According to kashrut, meat and poultry may not be combined with dairy products, nor may they touch plates or utensils that have been touched by dairy products. Therefore, Jews who strictly observe kashrut divide their kitchens into different sections for meat and for dairy, with separate ovens, plates and utensils (or as much as is reasonable, given financial and space constraints; there are procedures to kasher utensils that have touched dairy to allow their use for meat).

As a result, butter, milk and cream are not used in preparing dishes made with meat or intended to be served together with meat. Oil, pareve margarine, rendered chicken fat (often called schmaltz in the Ashkenazi tradition), or non-dairy cream substitutes are used instead.

Despite religious prohibitions, some foods not generally considered kosher have made their way into traditional Jewish cuisine; sturgeon, which was consumed by European Jews at least as far back as the 19th century, is one example.

The interesting thing about the Orthodox style of cuisine is division of dairy from meat, and the exclusion of certain foods such as pork, shellfish and the ritualistic slaughter methods used. I won’t get into much detail about this, only to say it creates an environment of creativity and proper cooking techniques. How about a recipe or two? These link to an image of the recipe, if you would like the recipe in a file format (master cook), feel free to contact me. Challah Smoked Salmon Bulghur Pilaf