Entree to Judaism
By Tina Wasserman
- Meet Tina
- Review: The Austin Chronicle
"This book is a cornucopia of tasty dishes easily managed in the American kitchen."
What we eat says so much about who we are and from where we come. Do you like your matzah brie sweet or savory? Is your chicken soup matzah ball or mulligatawny? Does your menu feature a cheese torta or a tofu salad? Wherever Jews have settled, they have adapted local tastes and ingredients to meet the needs of Shabbat and kashrut, creating a rich and diverse menu of flavors and styles, all still Jewish.
In Entrée to Judaism, Tina Wasserman leads a culinary journey around the world and across the ages, from Spain to India, from Russia to Tunisia, sharing the histories and recipes of the great Diaspora communities and the many wonderful ways they have told their stories through food.
- Accessible, easy-to-follow recipes for the novice home cook and expert chef alike.
- Features "Tina's Tidbits," fun facts and great cooking tips for every recipe.
- Includes over 275 recipes and dozens of full-color photos
In my work as a private chef, I was once preparing the first dinner for a new client. The household's 5-year-old edged into the kitchen. "So," she said, skeptically, "are you Jewish?" "Uh, no," I replied, thinking fast. "But I can cook Jewish."
While a glib answer might satisfy a kindergartner, Jewish cooking is not so simple a proposition. It's a multifaceted culinary arena based on religious observance and food laws, family tradition, geographic location, available ingredients, and the creativity of individual cooks. Over the centuries, wherever Jews have settled across the globe, they've absorbed and adapted local flavors into the culinary customs and dietary regulations that traveled with them.
There are many terrific books about Jewish cooking, but Tina Wasserman, longtime Dallas cooking teacher, chef, and food writer, skillfully tackles this vast subject with fresh eyes. She provides interesting context for virtually every recipe, explaining when and why Jews settled in a region and how dishes evolved there. I learned much about the historic roles Jews played in international food trade – oranges in the Middle East, spice routes across Asia, vanilla and cacao in the Caribbean.
The book's 275 recipes range from the relatively familiar Jewish cuisines of Russia, Europe, and the Mediterranean to less well-known dishes developed by inhabitants of Southeast Asia, China, and Latin America. Wasserman includes some of her own Texas adaptations, which she says are "no different than what our ancestors did when they arrived in a new country; take what's locally available, add personal preference and experience to the mix, and make sure it conforms to kashrut."
This book is a cornucopia of tasty dishes easily managed in American kitchens, and it's a useful resource for anyone interested in historic Jewish foodways. Where else might you find eight different chicken soup recipes prepared by Jewish mothers, from Poland to India to Thailand?