By : Emil G. Hirsch Immanuel Benzinger
Joseph Jacobs Isidore Harris Bertha
Fishberg I. George Dobsevage
Preparation of Meat; Butter and
—In Eastern Europe:
Bread and Cakes.
Savories and Candies.
preparation of the meal was in
ancient times a very simple process.
The principal articles of diet
were bread and milk, to which
were added, as supplementary dishes,
fruits and vegetables (compare
Baking and Milk). Meat was eaten
only on festivals; and many vegetables,
such as cucumbers, garlic, leek,
onions, etc., were eaten raw.
Lentils (Gen. xxv. 29; II Sam.
xvii. 28) or greens (II Kings
iv. 38 et seq.) were boiled in
either water or oil. Fruit was
often dried and compressed into
solid, cake-like masses, making
raisin-cake, fig-cake, etc. (I
Sam. xxv. 18, xxx. 12; II Sam.
xvi. 1, etc.; compare the "?amr
al-din," or flat cake of
compressed apricots, still popular
among the Syrians); and a kind
of sirup, or Honey ("debash")
was sometimes extracted from it.
A kind of porridge was made from
corn by adding water, salt, and
butter ("'arisah," probably
the "'arsan" of the
Talmud, which was a paste prepared
of crushed and malted grain);
and from this many kinds of cakes
were made with oil and fruits
(II Sam. xiii. 6 et seq.; Num
xi. 8; Ex. xxix. 2, etc.; see
the importance of these cakes
in later sacrificial ceremonies,
as mentioned, for example, in
in ancient times, was usually
boiled, and was consequently thus
served at the table of Yhwh (Judges
vi. 19; I Sam. ii. 15). The sauce
in which it was cooked was also
relished ("mara?," Judges
vi. 19; perhaps also "mer?a?ah,"
Ezek. xxiv. 10). That the custom
of boiling a young lamb or a kid
in milk—still prevalent among
the Arabs—existed among the ancient
Hebrews, is proved by the prohibition
of the custom in Ex. xxiii. 19.
which may also signify
"roasting," is usually applied
to cooking in the sense of
"boiling." It is reported of the
wicked sons of Eli that they
preferred roasted to boiled meat
(I Sam. ii. 15). The meat of the
Passover lamb was usually
roasted; and indeed the custom
of roasting ("zalah")
became ever more prevalent. As
among all the nations of antiquity,
it was effected at the open fire,
either by placing the meat directly
upon the coals (compare the roasting
of the fish mentioned in John
xxi. 9), or by using a spit or
grate, which appurtenances, though
not specifically mentioned in
the Old Testament, may reasonably
be supposed to have been employed.
Even in Genesis (xxvii. 6 et seq.)
it is stated that Rebekah could
prepare the flesh of a kid so
that it tasted like venison; and
from this statement a certain
degree of culinary skill may be
inferred. The progress of civilization,
bringing about increased importation
of provisions, materially contributed
to the refinement of the culinary
art among the Hebrews (compare
Food).E. G. H. I. Be.
is not surprising that Jewish
cookery possesses characteristics
of its own which differentiate
it from ordinary cookery. The
dietary and ceremonial laws to
which orthodox Jews conform have
naturally evolved a particular
kind of culinary art. The institution
of the Passover, the distinction
between permitted and forbidden
foods, the regulations as to butter
and meat, and the custom of abstaining
from meat at certain seasons,
have all contributed to make Jewish
cookery distinctive. But the preparation
of food for the table is a matter
which will always be influenced
by local conditions. Every country
and district has its favorite
dishes, largely dependent upon
its particular food products.
Hence, Jews have carried with
them, wherever they have wandered,
the styles of cookery prevailing
in the countries from which they
have migrated. Thus in England
old-fashioned Jews, who retain
the customs of the ghetto, are
comparative strangers to the plain
English roast, boiled, and grilled
meats, preferring the more savory
dishes of the Continent. From
Spain and Portugal they have derived,
along with their fondness for
olives, their custom of frying
fish and other foods in oil. From
Germany they have taken the habit
of sour-stewing and sweet-stewing
meats. To Holland they owe a taste
for pickled cucumbers and herrings,
and from the same country come
such Jewish dainties as butter
cakes and "bolas" (jamrolls).
From Poland, on the other hand,
Jewish immigrants have brought
into their new homes "lokschen"
or "frimsel" soup (cooked
with goose fat), stuffed fish,
and various kinds of stewed fish.
In this way almost all varieties
of Jewish cookery are reproduced
in an English form, to which this
article is mainly confined.
(see image) Egyptian Cookery,
Showing Processes of Preparing
Food.(After Lepsius, "Denkmaler.")
influence has to be noted. The
stringency of the dietary laws
has combined with the peculiar
domesticity of Jewish life to
make cooking the special business
of Jewish wives and daughters.
It has thus been raised to the
character of a fine art, even
among the humblest classes. In
the ghettos of Jewry no housewife
would think of relegating the
preparation of meals to a servant.
Only by attending to them herself
can she satisfy her conscience that
such ritual requirements as the
"kashering" of meat, the
keeping apart of butter and
meat, and the separation of "hallah"
(the bread-offering) have been
duly complied with. The kitchen
has, therefore, always been regarded
among orthodox Jews as the chief
province of a Jewish housewife,
and to her supremacy in this region
the Scriptural words "The
king's daughter is all glorious
within" (Ps. xlv. 13) have
not inaptly been applied. In times
gone by, especially when the facilities
of travel were few, the male members
of a Jewish family whose vocations
took them away from home would
be exposed to many privations.
Thus the responsibilities of Jewish
housewives would be heightened.
They would exercise their ingenuity
to the utmost so that on the return
of the breadwinners their hardships
might be forgotten in the enjoyment
of appetizing dishes. The influence
of the dietary laws and ceremonial
customs on Jewish cookery can
be further traced in the details
of the kitchen.
institution of the Passover, with
its commandment to abstain during
the festival from eating leavened
bread, has had the natural effect
of developing special kinds and
methods of cooking appropriate
to that period. The unleavened
bread is not merely a staple article
of food, but an ingredient of
almost every Passover dish. "Mazzah klös" (dumpling) soup
takes the place of lokshen for
this week, and an immense variety
of sweet cakes and puddings, manufactured
from ground mazzah meal, replaces
the confectionery and pastries
of ordinary occasions. Fish, instead
of being fried in a batter, is
cooked with meal. An excellent
flour can be made of potatoes,
and Jewish cooks make use of it
for pastries during Passover.
All dishes which can be made from
eggs are in special request, and
this accounts for the popularity
of almond pudding as a Jewish
delicacy. Jews are also debarred
during Passover from drinking
malt liquor, which has to be replaced
by such beverages as sassafras
very early times, as far back
even as their sojourn in Egypt
(Num. xi. 5), Jews have shown
a strong liking for fish, and
have developed special skill in
its preparation. There are many
reasons for this preference: (1)
The necessity of abstaining from
meat not killed according to Jewish
law makes them particularly dependent
upon fish. (2) It is not regarded
as meat, and can therefore be
eaten in conjunction with butter.
(3) There are seasons, such as
the "Nine Days," when
strict Jews abstain from meat
altogether. (4) The eating of
fish has always been associated
with the celebration of the Sabbath.
From no orthodox table is fish
absent at one or more of the Sabbath
meals, however difficult it may
be to procure. In inland countries
like Poland, Jews are limited
to fresh-water fish.
are several distinctively Jewish
modes of preparing fish, and English
Jews have paid special attention
to their practice. Anglo-Jewish
methods of cooking fish were first
introduced by Portuguese Jews,
and copied by German Jews. Their
favorite fish is salmon, which
is either fried, white-stewed,
or brown-stewed. Fish, white-stewed,
with lemon and bread balls, is
a specifically Jewish preparation,
typical of their fondness for
piquant stews in preference to
the plain preparation common in
non-Jewish families. Smoked salmon
is another Jewish delicacy, and
this, together with pickled herrings,
pickled (yellow) cucumbers, and
olives, is often to be seen on
Jewish tables as appetizing adjuncts
to fried fish.
of Meat; Butter and Meat.
principal concern in the preparation
of food for a Jewish table is
compliance with the ritual requirements
Kasher meat. Orthodox Jews
will not partake of meat unless,
in addition to having been killed
in accordance with rabbinical
law, it has been entirely drained
of blood. Therefore, before being
cooked, it needs to be steeped
in water for half an hour. On
being taken out it is laid on
a perforated board, sprinkled
lightly with salt, and left for
one hour. At the end of this time
the salt is washed off (see Melihah).
Meat may not be cooked with butter
or milk. Oil, and certain portions
of the fat of clean animals (the
or kasher fat, as distinguished
or terefah fat), are
the only fats that may be used.
So far as cookery is concerned,
the distinction between butter
and meat necessitates the use
of a double set of utensils. Some
Jews have two kitchens, one for
meat and one for butter; and two
separate dressers are common.
Jewish cooks are debarred from
using butter in pastries, which
are to be eaten in conjunction
with meats, and from using milk
or cream under the same circumstances.
For butter, melted fat must be
substituted, while cream may be
imitated in a variety of ways.
One reason why almond pudding
is a favorite in Anglo-Jewish
households is that it does not
require either meat or butter,
and can therefore be eaten at
must be taken of the special preparations
made for the Sabbath. The Sabbath
dish par excellence is the "kugel."
Orthodox Jews not being permitted
to cook on the Sabbath, their
ingenuity has been much taxed
to provide hot food for the day
of rest. In the height of summer,
cold meats are acceptable enough.
The difficulty is to provide hot
dishes in winter, and it has been
overcome by the preparation of
a dish known as "kugel."
It consists, generally, of meat
stewed with peas and beans, and
placed in the oven before Sabbath.
The fire having been made up,
and the oven firmly closed, the
dish requires no further attention,
and will retain its heat until
it is wanted for the Sabbath midday
meal. The term "shalet"
(see "sholent" in the
article Cookery in Eastern Europe)
is used in some parts of Europe
to designate what has just been
described as kugel, while "kugel"
is used as the name of a variety
of shalet containing much fat;
in other parts (e.g., Bavaria)
"shalet" is used of
a sort of baked pudding; e.g.,
ma??ah, apple, nudel, or almond
shalet. The form "shulet"
also occurs, as in Bohemia, to
indicate the "gesetztes essen"
called "kugel" in the
beginning of this paragraph. "Shalet"
is explained by some authorities
as a corruption of the German
"schul ende," that being
the name of a pudding which is
prepared on Friday, to be ready
when Sabbathmorning or afternoon
service is over. Others derive
it from ("that which remains
[in the oven] overnight"),
the final "t" being
the German ending. The real derivation
is probably from the Old French
"chauld" (warm). The
prohibition against cooking on
Sabbath explains why fried fish,
being primarily a Sabbath dish,
is eaten by Jews cold, whereas
other people eat it hot. Stewed
fish is, of course, also eaten
A prominent feature of Sabbath
cookery is the preparation of
twists of bread, which are known
or, as in southern Germany, Austria,
and Hungary, as "barches."
They are often covered with seeds
to represent manna, which fell
in a double portion on the sixth
day. One other item remaining
to be mentioned is raisin wine.
Jews are required to offer over
a cup of wine the Sabbath prayer
for the sanctification of food.
But in many countries wine is
too expensive a luxury for the
majority of Jewish families. A
cheap preparation, made of boiled
raisins, is therefore substituted,
which, though it is far from resembling
wine, satisfies all the requirements
of the ritual.
A Jewish Manual of Cookery, edited
by a lady, Boone, 1826;
Aunt Sarah's Cookery Book for
a Jewish Kitchen, Liverpool, 1872;
2d ed., 1889;
Mrs. J. Atrutel, Book of Jewish
Cookery, London, 1874;
May Henry and Edith Cohen, The
Economical Cook, London, 1889;
Aunt Babette's Cook Book, Cincinnati,
The last contains a number of
Jewish recipes, but is not restricted
to Jewish cookery.J. I. H.
of the dishes cooked by the Jews
in eastern Europe are akin to
those of the nations among whom
they dwell. Thus the kasha and
blintzes of the Russian Jews,
the mamaliga of the Rumanians,
the paprika of the Hungarians,
are dishes adopted by the Jews
from their Gentile neighbors.
Only on religious and ceremonial
occasions do they cook peculiarly
food prepared on Friday for the
Sabbath is called sholent (the
Russian equivalent of "shalet").
The most popular form of sholent
is made of potatoes placed in
the pot with meat, fat, and water.
The potatoes appear on the table
on Saturday glistening with fat,
and are of a dark, brownish color.
Some even consider them not alone
palatable, but an excellent remedy
for various ills. The commonest
form of sholent is the kugel,
a kind of pudding made of almost
any article of food; the magen kugel
and the lokshen-kugel are two
favorite varieties. The former
consists of an animal's stomach
filled with flour, fat, and chopped
meat, peppered and salted to taste.
The latter is made of lokshen;
often raisins and spices are added.
It is cut as ordinary pudding.
Other kugels are compounded of
rice, potatoes, carrots, etc.
Lokshen consists of flour and
eggs made into dough, rolled into
sheets, and then cut into long
strips. Macaroni is an excellent
substitute for it. Cut into small
squares, these strips are called
"farfil." They are usually
boiled and served with soup. On
the day preceding Tish'ah Be'ab,
milchige lokshen is eaten. This
is ordinary lokshen boiled in
or compote, consists generally
of cooked fruits, such as plums
(flaumen ?imes), or of vegetables,
well spiced. The most popular
vegetable is the carrot (mehren
?mies), which is cleaned and cut
into small slices, and boiled
in water for about three hours.
The water is then poured off and
mixed with flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
The carrot is then replaced, a
fat piece of meat, preferably
from the breast, added, and the
concoction is again cooked for
two or three hours. Turnips are
also extensively used for ?imes,
particularly in Lithuania. In
southern Russia, Galicia, and
Rumania ?imes is made of pears,
apples, figs, prunes, etc. It
is then somewhat like a compound
of stewed fruits.
dish for Saturday is called petshai
in Lithuania, drelies in South
Russia, Galicia, and Rumania.
This consists of cow's or calf's
leg prepared in a special manner.
The hair is burned off, and the
leg is then thoroughly cleaned,
and cut into pieces of a convenient
size. These are placed in a pot
with water, and pepper, salt,
and onions are added. Then it
is placed in the oven just as
are the other sholent dishes.
When it is removed from the oven
on Saturday morning, it is either
served hot, or it is distributed
in plates, hard-boiled eggs being
sliced into it, and it is put
in a cool place. When served in
the evening for "shalesh
se'udot," it is a semi-solid
mass, in which the meat is embedded.
Drelies is made by adding soft-boiled
eggs and also some vinegar as
soon as it is removed from the
oven, when it is served hot.
are naturally the great standby
of the poor. The best known of
these is the krupnik, made of
oatmeal, potatoes, and fat. This
is the staple food of the poor
students of the yeshibot; in richer
families meat is added to this
or krepchen is another dish peculiar
to eastern European Jews. It is
prepared in the following manner:
Flour and eggs are mixed into
a dough. This is rolled into sheets
and cut into three-inch squares.
On each square of dough is placed
fine-chopped meat, to which salt,
pepper, and onions are added.
The edges of the rolled dough
are then brought together and
well pasted. This is then placed
in a soup previously prepared
for the purpose. This kreplech
is eaten at least three times
a year by every pious Jew—on Purim,
on the day preceding the Day of
Atonement, and on Hosha'na Rabbah.
On occasions when meat is not
eaten, chopped cheese is placed
inside the kreplech.
weddings "golden" soup
is always served. The only reason
for its name is probably the yellow
circular pieces of chicken fat
floating on its surface.
preparations of fish made by the
eastern European Jews are famous
even among the Gentiles, the most
popular being the gefillte (filled
fish). This is prepared thus:
After undergoing the usual processes
of cleaning and washing, the fish
is cut into two or three parts.
The bones are then taken out,
the skin is removed, and the meat
is chopped fine, eggs, salt, pepper,
and onions being added. This mass
is then replaced in the skin,
dropped into boiling water, and
cooked for about three hours.B.
the very popular dish of groats
calledkrupnik, and many other
grit soups, which are also common
among non-Jews, there are still
a number of soups which are more
or less characteristically Jewish.
The soup into which "kneidlach"
(= "knoedel," dumplings)
are put, is the dish used most
often on Saturdays, holidays,
and other special occasions, particularly
at Passover, when it corresponds
to the "ma??ah kloes"
of western Europe. The expression
"Me meint nit di Haggadah
nor di kneidlach" (It is
not the Haggadah that we like
so much as the dumplings) owes
its origin to the great favor
this soup has attained among the
Jews of eastern Europe. The kneidlach
in most cases are made by grinding
ma??ahs into flour, and adding
eggs, water, melted fat, pepper,
and salt. This mixture is then
rolled into balls about one and
one-half inches in diameter. The
kneidlach are then put into the
soup, and it is ready to be served
about half an hour after. Often
the kneidlach are fried in fat
and served apart from the soup.
Another kind of kneidlach, made
from mashed potatoes put into
warm milk, forms a well-liked
soup among Lithuanian Jews. The
village folk of some parts of
eastern Europe have still another
form of soup, which is made by
putting crisp "beigel"
(round cracknel) into hot water
and adding butter. Because of
its nutritious qualities it is
called michyeh, a corruption of
the Hebrew word "mi?yah"
(i.e., food ?at' ??????; compare
the Latin "victus").
There are, however, a number of
soups in the preparation of which
neither meat nor even fat is used.
Such soups form the food of the
poor classes. An expression current
among Jews of eastern Europe,
"soup mit nisht" (soup
with nothing), owes its origin
to dissatisfaction with soups
of this kind.
are a number of sour soups, called
borshtsh, the most popular of
which is the "kraut,"
or cabbage, borshtsh, which is
made by cooking together cabbage,
meat, bones, onions, raisins,
sour salts, sugar, and sometimes
tomatoes. Before serving, the
yolks of eggs are mixed with the
borshtsh. This last process is
(to make white). Borshtsh is also
made from the beet-root and "rossel"
(the juice derived from the beet).
(roasted meat), chopped meat,
and essig fleish (vinegar meat)
are the favorite forms in which
meats are prepared. The essig
or, as it is sometimes called,
"honnig," or "sauer
fleish," is made by adding
to meat which has been partially
roasted some fish-cake, sugar,
bay-leaves, English pepper, raisins,
sour salts, and a little vinegar.
of cattle, because of its cheapness,
is used in the preparation of
a great number of dishes. The
fat of geese and chickens is used
only on special occasions, but
is kept in readiness for use when
needed. Fat, being used so freely
during Passover, is prepared in
quantities long before that feast,
in many cases as early as ?annukah
or "scraps," form one
of the best liked foods among
the Jews of eastern Europe. It
is eaten especially on the Feast
of ?annukah. So much do the Jews
share in the belief "that
there is no flavor comparable
with the tawny and well-watched
scraps," that it is often
suggested as an inducement to
friends to make a visit.
of eastern Europe bake both black
("proster," or "ordinary")
bread and white bread, or Challah
Of great interest are the various
forms into which these breads
are made; for while the black
bread is usually circular in form,
the shapes in which Challah is
baked vary as the different holidays
pass by. The most common form
of the Challahs is the twist ("koilitch"
or "kidke"). The koilitch
is oval in form, and about one
and a half feet in length. On
special occasions, such as weddings,
the koilitch is increased to a
length of about two and a half
feet. Some are made in miniature
for the small boys, as an inducement
to say the "?iddush"
(bread benediction) which is required
on Friday night.
dough of Challah is often shaped
into forms having symbolical meanings;
thus on New-Year rings and coins
are imitated, indicating "May
the new year be as round and complete
as these"; for Yom Kippur
(Day of Atonement) the Challah,
which on that occasion is circular,
carries a piece of dough in imitation
of a dove, the significance being
"May our sins be carried
away by the dove." Challah
is also baked in the form of a
ladder for Yom Kippur, expressing
thereby the desire, "May
our prayers climb up to heaven";
for Hosha'na Rabbah, bread is
baked in the form of a key, meaning
"May the door of heaven open
to admit our prayers." The
Haman tash, a kind of a turnover
filled with honey and black poppy-seed,
is eaten on the Feast of Purim,
but probably has no special meaning.
mohn ki?el, a circular or rectangular
wafer having in it a quantity
of poppy, forms a part of the
Sabbath breakfast. Pirushkes,
or turnovers, are little cakes
fried in honey, or sometimes merely
dipped in molasses, after they
are baked. The strudel, or single-layered
jelly or fruit cake, takes the
place of the pie for dessert.
Teigachz, or pudding, of which
the kugel is one variety, is usually
made from rice, noodles, "farfel"
(dough crums), and even mashed
potatoes. Gehakte herring (chopped
herring). which is usually served
as the first dish at the Sabbath
dinner, is made by skinning a
few herrings and chopping them
together with hard-boiled eggs,
onions, apples, sugar, pepper,
and a little vinegar.
and ingberlach are the two popular
home-made candies. The teiglach
are made by frying in honey pieces
of dough about the size of a marble,
the dough being mixed with sugar
and ginger. The ingberlach are
ginger candies made into either
small sticks or rectangles. Jellies
are made from all juices of fruits,
and are used for different purposes;
they are used in making pastry
and are often served with tea.
Among the poorer classes jellies
are reserved for the use of invalids
and patients, and so well has
the practice of making jelly solely
for that purpose been established,
that often the words "Allewai
zol men dos nit darfen" (May
we not have occasion to use it)
are repeated before storing it