I wanted to write anEating Jewishpost about Tisha b’Av, yet as I started looking through my various cookbooks, I noticed that most of them had no mention of the holiday. It was often missing from the index and even recipes containing ingredients that would usually be included in a dish prepared on Tisha b'Av had no mention of it. I did find mention of Tisha b’Av in Gil Marks' Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, which devotes an entry to it (there’s a reason I’m constantly referring to this book) as well as in his cookbook The World of Jewish Food.
When I think of Shabbat dinner, one of the first things that comes to mind is the sweet, dense challah that I love so much. It has become so popular that it can be purchased in bakeries all week long, and like many of the iconic Jewish foods of North America (bagels, knishes, pastrami, and smoked meat, to name a few) it was introduced by members of the European Jewish community.
One of the ingredients that is a staple in my kitchen cupboard is canned tomatoes. I will almost always have a can or two around in case I decide I want to make a quick tomato sauce or a pizza, and I especially rely on them throughout the majority of the year when local tomatoes are unavailable. Yet I recently realized that throughout the process of buying, using and consuming these tomatoes, I never stopped to think about their history and how they came to be the product we know today.
It was just over a week ago that my advisor told me about Josh Ozserky’s article entitled "The Kugel Conundrum" in which Ozserky bluntly declares, “Jewish food is awful.” My first reaction was one of incredulity and I wondered whether a convincing argument could be made against Jewish food.