29 December 2007

One family's food

Some time ago, two researchers who shared the same shtetl kicked around the idea of writing a shtetl cookbook together. As things go, we became sidetracked by other matters - even though we believed it would have been a wonderful project. There are only so many hours in a day!

Thus, I was delighted to learn that Judy Bart Kancigor has accomplished what many of us wish we could do if we were more focused or had more time. She's gathered more than 500 Rabinowitz family recipes into Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family (Workman, 2007).

According to the review in the Cleveland (Ohio) Jewish News:

As Kancigor awaited her first grandchild, she also watched her aging aunts’ lives fading. She feared her favorite family stories and recipes would be lost before they could be passed on to the younger and yet-to-be-born generations. So she rallied her aunts, cousins, and their in-law families - the whole mishpochah -to contribute recipes. They gathered in each other’s kitchens for testing, tasting and telling tales.

“Unlike a photo or even a video, a treasured recipe, passed down from mother to daughter for who knows how long, summons the past with all five senses,” Kancigor writes.

The book also details family stories, anecdotes, descriptions. The article gives two family recipes, Crusty Potato Kugel and Luscious Noodle Pudding.

Moral of the story: Genealogy isn't only family trees or photographs, it's also gastronomic. Preserving our history also means preserving family comfort food.

1 comment:

  1. Schelly,

    The cookbook sounds like a wonderful idea. Since my mom never used recipes, but basically burned almost everything she cooked, she probably won't be my role model (grin).

    My grandmother, on the other hand, who lived with us, did leave behind a very few that were written down. I wish I had more of them.

    I have to wonder how many women these days actually create their own recipes. Perhaps there are more than I realize.