As a blogger, I’m constantly perusing the Internet for the latest stories and happenings in the world of Jewish food. There’s always something going on—a new restaurant opening, a unique take on a traditional Jewish dish or a fascinating story behind the cuisine. Here are a few of my favorite articles that I’ve recently read, learned from and shared with friends.
Lam spends some time with Itta Werdiger-Roth, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community in Australia and now resides in New York, where she’s made a name for herself hosting raucous dinner parties. Their tour of some of the city’s hallmarks for traditional and not-so-traditional Jewish cooking include supermarket Pomegranate (a “Whole Foods for Jews”) and a bustling commercial kitchen so under-the-radar that Lam has to promise not to name it in the article.
Favorite excerpt: But for a taste of the old-school stuff she recognized as ‘‘Jewish,’’ Werdiger-Roth later took me to a bustling commercial kitchen where Orthodox Jews stream through on Fridays to buy food for their sundown Sabbath feasts…. It got its start when a local caterer landed a gig cooking for an important rabbi’s family, and Werdiger-Roth was wary of giving me the name or address. “It’s so important in the community, but I have no idea what kind of licenses it has. You have to promise not to reveal it. Just go to the corner and follow your nose.”
Esquire knows style. And in October, they declared America’s best new restaurant to be Shaya, a restaurant that serves Israeli food…in New Orleans. Not only does the review include some thoughtful insights on Israeli food, but also on the appropriateness of the restaurant’s location.
Favorite excerpt: There’s always a lovely astringency to Israeli food, a bracing quality that seems based on a knowledge of life itself, the sour never far from the sweet and bitter herbs essential to the grandest feast. It’s not the food of the conqueror but rather of the conquered and the unconquerable, which is what makes it hard to decide if the “best” Israeli food is food that breaks with tradition or exemplifies it.
This article is incredibly biased but will make you laugh all the same. There’s a newish trend in New York’s bagel shops—and the bagel-lovers interviewed for this article are not happy about it.
Favorite excerpt: “It was the moment I realized my ex was a monster,” Lisa Rosenberg, a 27-year-old graphic designer living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, says of a guy she dated for about a year. “Even watching someone eating [a scooped-out bagel] is completely repulsive.”
By now you’ve either heard about or binged on “Transparent,” the Netflix original series about family, identity, religion, sexuality and—as this article maintains—food. This will add just another layer to the meaning and symbolism in a show that’s already chock full of them. (Note: This article includes spoilers!)
Favorite excerpt: Transparent’s focus on food squares with its painfully honest portrayal of a contemporary Jewish family living in Los Angeles—and if you’ve ever been a part of such a family, or eaten with one, you’ll know what I mean…. When Josh and his other sister, Ali, pick up food from Canter’s Deli for a family meal, their mother can tell from the weight of the bags that they’ve deviated from the “standing order.”
Falafel is as old a Middle Eastern dish as any, right? Maybe not. Shaul Stampfer, a professor of Soviet and East European Jewry at Hebrew University’s Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies, tracked down the history of this iconic dish and found that it’s younger and more political than many people think.
Favorite excerpt: Stampfer told Haaretz that for him, the greatest significance of falafel—and bagels—is how both foods helped Jewish immigrants to adopt a national identity in their new homelands. “This food is saying I want to be Jewish, but I don’t want to be Jewish in the ways the rabbis tell me. I want to be Jewish in my own terms,” he said.