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JEWISH SOUL FOOD: From Minsk to Marrakesh

Janna Gur

Cookbooks, 2014

More Than 100 Unforgettable Dishes Updated for Today’s Kitchen

The author of the successful The Book of New Israeli Food returns with a cookbook devoted to the greatest hits of Jewish grandmothers from Minsk to Marrakesh: recipes that have traveled across continents and cultural borders, now brought to life for a new generation.

Over thousands of years, Jews all over the world developed cuisines not only suited to their needs (kashrut, holidays, Shabbat) but also reflecting the influences of their neighbors and carrying memories from their past wanderings. But these cuisines may now be on the verge of extinction,  because practically none the Jewish communities in which these cuisines developed and thrived exist anymore. Only in Israel are there still a few first-generation cooks who know and love these dishes. Israel is, in a sense, a living laboratory of this beloved and endangered Jewish food.

The 100 diversely flavored recipes here—from Jerusalem’s surprising, sweet kugel flavored with pepper to Bukharan’s hearty Ushapualau, a wondrous stew of beef, chickpeas, and carrots—were not chosen by an editor or a chef so much as by what Janna Gur calls “natural selection.”  These are the dishes that, though rooted in their original provenance, have been embraced by Israelis fthroughout the diaspora and have become part of Israel’s culinary landscape. Aimed to educate and delight the grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those who carried their cuisines on journeys far from their original homes, JEWISH SOUL FOOD proceeds from the premise that the only way to preserve traditional cuisine is to cook it. The book offers all cooks the “greatest hits” from a fascinating food culture—a chance to enrich their cooking repertoire and at the same time help to preserve a valuable part of Jewish heritage and its collective “soul.”

Rights Sold:

Holland, Lannoo; World English, Knopf/Schocken


“No one is more qualified to write about both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish cooking than Gur, for she has lived with both cuisines and loves them equally. Here she has collected the most mouthwatering examples of each. I want to cook and taste every recipe—this book makes me very hungry.” – David Tanis, author of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes and One Good Dish

“This is my kind of food—bold, flavorful, and comforting, and with memories of home. I can’t wait to cook from this book.” – Einat Admony, author of Balaboosta

“This is a rave. With striking photos and vibrant spirit, here is a cookbook that reads like a luscious travelogue built around the culinary narrative of the Jewish diaspora…Janna Gur’s gorgeous new book is both prequel and sequel to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem. The title alone makes me swoon. There is much to learn here. I have never seen, eaten, or made many of these dishes: her Sabich is gorgeous, as is the Hamin Macaroni, Mafroum, Feta-Stuffed Pepper ‘Cutlets,’ and tantalizing Fluden for dessert. In a world cluttered with cookbooks, this is a standout, a poignant narrative of authenticity cast in a contemporary light.” – Rozanne Gold, author of the 1-2-3 cookbook series and of Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease

“Gur, who opened our palates to the vibrant melting pot of modern Israel, now dazzles us with its multicultural culinary mosaic: the glittering food treasures of its immigrants from one hundred different countries, returned home from the Diaspora. Many writers talk about preserving ethnic food traditions, but Gur gives us the very best reason: every recipe in this focused, elegantly curated collection is irresistible.” – Jayne Cohen, author of Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations

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