The Jew And The Carrot

Send Us Your Rosh Hashanah Cooking Questions!

By Devra Ferst

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Rosh Hashanah is the perfect holiday to bring out all the stops in your kitchen. Without the restrictions of Passover, it’s a great time to get creative (I’m thinking Asian BBQ brisket) or lovingly revive a special family recipe.

But cooking a holiday meal for your family or friends can be intimidating, whether you’ve done it 50 times or it’s your first time. We’re here to help! Consider the us your virtual bubbe. Need a chicken recipe? A great pareve cake? Wondering how to host a Sephardic holiday Seder? We’ve got you covered.

Send us your Rosh Hashanah cooking questions by Wednesday, August 21st and cookbook author Adeena Sussman will answer them. Don’t worry if your questions are simple or complicated — it’s like calling the kosher Butterball hotline; any question is fair game.

Ask us your questions in the comments below; or tweet at @jdforward using the hashtag #roshrecipes or comment on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to send this along to your friends. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


The Little Creamery That Could

By Alix Wall

Alix Wall
Lisa Gottreich with two of her goats

This story first appeared on J. Weekly.

When Bohemian Creamery’s Boho Belle cheese was served along with fig sesame jam, arugula and balsamic vinegar to President Barack Obama at a brunch in Atherton, it was then, and only then, that Lisa Gottreich began to think that maybe she would succeed as a cheesemaker.

“I started to cry when I heard,” she said about the April fundraiser, where a San Francisco caterer had included her cheese on the event menu. “To make an agricultural, artisan food in California, you have to produce a product that you can’t afford to buy, and sell it to a place you could never afford to eat, and then maybe you’ll make it.”

Gottreich, 51, has been a cheesemaker for most of her life, but it turned from hobby to profession just a few years ago. At the time, she was working as an operations analyst, her 17-year marriage was falling apart, and she wanted to change the course of her life. “I decided I would do something that brought me joy,” she said. (She also quips that she traded in her ex-husband for goats.)

Gottreich, the product of a Swedish-Jewish home in West Marin, Calif. grew up around animals and enjoyed physical labor. “I like sweating. What’s wrong with hard work?” she asked. “If I had been a Jew in Egypt, I probably would have petitioned to stay a slave.”

She spent some time in Israel during high school, talking her way onto a kibbutz (she was younger than the minimum age of 16 for volunteers). She loved the experience and the feeling that “Israel still had a lot of socialist influence at that time.”

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The CSA Psolet Challenge: Week Two

By Shuli Passow

Flickr, BroadStreetInn

If last week was about confronting my CSA enemy, this week was all about reuniting with a good CSA friend: beets. It took me a while for my love affair with beets to ignite, but when it did, I never looked back. In addition to being gorgeous and delicious, nutritionally speaking, beets have it all: folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium, fiber, B-complex vitamins, potassium, and more. A beautiful bunch arrived in the share, the first we’ve received this season, and I pondered which of my many favorite recipes to prepare. As I considered my options, I realized that most recipes I love call for peeling the beets—a rather arduous and messy task. No matter which technique I’ve tried—peeling while raw, roasting wrapped in tin foil, roasting not wrapped in tin foil, boiling—I’ve never found the peeling process to be as simple as every cookbook promises. So I decided to go with a simple roasted beet recipe, shared with me by my good friend Stephanie Pell, which does not require peeling the beets. Not only is this a huge time saver, but—CSA psolet challenge bonus!—you create less waste by eating the peels instead of throwing them away.

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Cronut Craze Invades the Holy Land

By Tal Trachtman Alroy

Tal Trachtman

In New York Dominque Ansel’s cronut (a donut croissant hybrid) is the talk of the town. Devoted pastry lovers and the slightly insane line up outside the bakery as early as 5 or 6am daily to buy their daily allowance of two cronuts a person for $5 each. Those wishing to avoid the crowds are rumored to have spent up to $40 buying off scalpers nearby. The trend has spawned knock offs as close by as Washington DC and as far as South Korea.

Now, Tel Avivians are getting in on the action as well. Lenchner bakery made local headlines last week with the first kosher iteration of the craze. But, in a matter of days, they were no longer the only bakery cashing in on the frenzy in the Holy Land. The bakery of northern Tel Aviv’s popular Movieng Cafe (where you can rent movies and pick up your favorite pastries regularly), is also cashing in on the buttery obsession. I went to test out these versions and see if these half-doughnut, half-croissant buttery bad boys are worth the hype.

In case you’re in need of additional calories, Dominique Ansel’s original Cronuts are rolled in sugar, fried, filled with cream and topped with glaze. The Lenchner’s have left out the additional delight of cream filling and offer the glazed version only. For just 10 shekel’s a pop ($2.80), four varieties of Cronuts awaited Israelis with a sweet tooth this past Friday: vanilla glazed, chocolate glazed and white or milk chocolate glaze topped with almonds.

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Could Science Create a Kosher Cheeseburger?

By Talia Lavin

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Could this burger be kosher in the future? Maybe — with the help of science.

(JTA) — When the world’s first lab-grown burger taste-tested on Monday, the event seemed full of promise for environmentalists, animal lovers and vegetarians.

Another group that had good reason to be excited? Kosher consumers.

The world’s first in-vitro burger, made using stem cells and soaked in a nutrient broth that might make Upton Sinclair shudder, was triumphantly declared “close to meat” by two taste-testers in London. Five years in the making, the meat patties were essentially an “animal protein cake”, according to one taster.

The burger was created by harvesting stem cells from a portion of cow shoulder muscle that were multiplied in petri dishes to form tiny strips of muscle fiber. About 20,000 of the strips were needed to create the five-ounce burger, which was financed partially by Google founder Sergey Brin and unveiled by Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

PETA hailed the event as a “first step” toward humanely producing meat products. A University of Amsterdam study shows that lab-grown meat could significantly reduce the environmental impact of beef production.

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Shabbat Meals in Paris: Coq au Vin

By Alix Wall

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I met Nadia in the summer of 1986, when I was 17 years old. We had both just graduated high school, and were among a handful of Americans who participated in a French language program in the south of France for a month. That I ended up in such a program was totally against my will; my parents were going to be in Paris all summer. My mom found this program and signed me up; just another occasion in which I have to admit, of course she was right. Beach-going, familiarizing ourselves with French wine (not that we had much of a taste for it at that age) and other activities took precedence over learning French. I had a fantastic month.

So when Nadia invited my husband and me for Shabbos dinner recently during a recent trip to Paris, I was thrilled.

Nadia and I, both Jewish, she from New York, me from California, had a ton in common from the moment we met. We spent most of our time with two others, Scott, another American graduate student, and Erik, a Dutch guy who had never met an American, but made it his mission that month to improve his American slang rather than his French (which, of course, was already much better than any of ours). While Nadia and I have remained in touch over the years, for a long period we had lost contact with the others.

Enter Facebook. A few years ago, the four of us found each other there, and decided that we had to get together, all four of us, in the next few years. While some of us had seen each other a handful of times over the 27 years, all four of us had never been together, as a group, since the Chateau.

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What Should I Take for Lunch?

By Linda Lebovic

When my kids were little, I was always searching for that perfect lunch. What could I put in their lunch box which would not be returned to me in the afternoon? For each child it was a different challenge: this one didn’t eat bread, this one ate bread but only whole wheat, and this one would eat bread but no crust. The list of variations and challenges went on and on. For a while there, I was lucky and one child loved Morningstar chicken nuggets—phew, fabulous and easy. Another only wanted tuna fish on lightly toasted bread with lettuce and tomato and crust taken off. It kind of reminds me of the childhood song…”Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us; all we want is that you give us something to eat. We don’t want your yucky food; we just want food that’s good…” Now everyone in my house is older, lunchroom cafeterias are a thing of the past. Yet, the question still remains, “What should I take for lunch?”

A 2012 study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Conagra Foods found that 62 percent of people with desk jobs usually eat lunch at their desks. Some choose to eat at their workstation because there is no staff kitchen, others would rather work 8 hours straight (not sure if that’s really legal). Some prefer to save money and bring a bag lunch. (It should be noted people do buy their lunch and still eat at their desk.)

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Tastes From the Kosher Druze Kitchen

By Miriam Kresh

miriam kresh

In the Galilee village of Sajur, Sohweela Ibrahim bends over her kitchen table, chopping onions on a wooden block. Her dress, as befits a middle-aged Druze woman, is black and long-sleeved. A long white kerchief swathes her head and neck, leaving her face exposed. In a sieve next to her elbow, soaked freekeh wheat drains into a metal bowl. It will make a spicy, herby pilaf for the traditional feast that Sohweela will soon serve at her culinary workshop in a small commercial kitchen.

Freekeh — green wheat smoked over a bonfire — is as much a part of Druze culture as the village houses clustered along the slopes of the Galilee mountains, each with its flowering jasmine bush or spreading grape vine shading the front porch. It’s a grain with biblical roots. According to food historian and chef Moshe Basson of the Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, the wheat that Joseph stored in Pharaoh’s silos was freekeh.

In Sohweela’s kitchen, she leaves the grain to the side as she caramelizes onions for her pilaf, throwing in cinnamon and pinches of fresh herbs to perfume the green wheat. She offers me some of the hot mix to taste on the tip of a spoon. And oddly enough, as an Orthodox Jew, I can accept it, because she presents me with the rare opportunity of eating kosher food in a Druze kitchen. It’s one of my dreams come true. Whatever culinary wisdom I’ve garnered from non-Jewish ethnic cooks has always come by watching, inhaling the smells, and asking questions — never tasting until I reproduce the dish at home. To get my hands into authentic Druze food and then savor it, hot, in a Galilee kitchen was thrilling. The opportunity came through a new company called Galileat, where local Arab and Druze families host typical meals to paying guests — including some that are kosher.

Rounding out the menu at the meal and workshop I attended were savory, potato-filled sambusak pastries, lamb patties baked in tahini, rice mixed with vermicelli noodles and topped with ground meat, zucchinis stuffed with rice and flavored with cinnamon in the Druze style. A hot dish of fresh mushrooms and chickpeas in a fiery sauce appeared on the table. Then there was tabbouleh, which gave everyone a chance to squeeze soaked bulgur and mix the salad with their hands. And chopped tomato and cucumber salad, made tangy with lemon juice and home-pressed olive oil. Pita topped with za’atar accompanied the feast, and dessert was the lightest, most delicious baklava I’ve ever tasted. Lots of lemonade with fresh mint in it on the table, and to top the meal off, lots of freshly-brewed, sweet and thick coffee flavored with cardamom and with the grounds still in the bottom of the cup.

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Shabbat Traditions: ‘Caterpillar Cake’ and Hamburgers

By Emma Rudolph

flickr/tanyalazar

The first time I saw my Granny putting ice in her hamburger mixture, I thought she was crazy, but it’s something she did nearly every Friday night when I visited as a child. She would prepare her specialties — meatloaf or hamburgers, salad with extra garlicy dressing, and icebox cake for dessert — in her Manhattan kitchen. There’s nothing Jewish about burgers and cake for Shabbat, but it was my favorite and each dish’s recipe involved a special family custom.

Adding ice cubes to raw hamburgers is an old family tradition: an inexplicable one. “But why ice cubes?” I probed Granny. She told me there was no real reason except that her mother, grandmother, and so on had done it. “Maybe we do it to keep the meat cool until it’s ready to be cooked,” she answered to my persistent questioning. (A little later research revealed that ice can help well-done burgers stay juicier, but I’m sticking to Granny’s theory.)

I recently moved across the country to a place where many daily parts of my life suddenly feel unfamiliar. To make home feel a little less far away, I’ve been practicing traditional family eating habits. In true ‘next generation’ form, I’ve added my own twists to these practices. Last Shabbat I had a successful experiment adding a dash of heavy cream to the family salad dressing to make a more luscious consistency. In the interest of making things a bit healthier, I substituted full-fat coconut milk in place of traditional dairy for Granny’s famed icebox cake. These are the family traditions I’m happy to continue, while others seem as ridiculous as ice cubes in hamburgers.

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The CSA Psolet Challenge: Week One

By Shuli Passow

Flickr: Fruma

Frisée! My CSA nemesis. What to do with this morass of spindly, bitter leaves that poke wildly in my mouth? The word frisée means ‘curly’ in French, and a head of this green indeed resembles a Medusa-like afro on the most humid of days. I’ve never bought frisée on my own accord, having experienced it in restaurants as a somewhat pretty but largely inedible garnish; on the rare occasion when I’ve encountered it as an unwieldy component in a salad, I’ve left it behind on the plate. So I stared rather blankly when a large head of frisée arrived in my CSA share this week, thinking that I would have to literally choke this one down in order to live up to my psolet challenge.

A quick Google search for recipes turned up variations on a theme: apparently, frisée is the preferred green for a French country salad that is bathed in a Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg. Traditionally, the salad includes thin slices of bacon (called lardons), but that would not fly in my kosher kitchen. Kashrut isn’t the only reason to eliminate the bacon, though, and I found several meat-free versions of this recipe that turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

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The Jewish Relationship with Food — Part 2

By Moment Magazine

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Moment Magazine asked 18 experts “Is There a Secret Ingredient in the Jewish Relationship with Food?” in their latest issue — and got some fascinating answers. Below are three of them and we posted three more last week here with permission from the magazine. We want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Sue Fishkoff

Jewish dietary practice, which we call kashrut, is the original practice of mindful eating. Kashrut isn’t about what you can and cannot eat; to me, it posits the individual in a holistic network of life and death. It says we do not own the earth, nor its creatures; we cannot have what we want whenever we want. Certainly what we put in our mouths says a lot about what we value as Jews and as human beings. There has always been a special relationship between Jews and food, not just emotionally, but with laws and rituals that govern every aspect of food: from how we sow the earth, how we harvest, how we slaughter animals, how we prepare food and the blessings we say before and after meals. The interesting thing to me is that in America today, kosher food is widely seen not just as part and parcel of an Orthodox lifestyle, but among many liberal or secular Jews as a mark of membership in the tribe, a public pronouncement of their Jewish identity.

Sue Fishkoff is editor of j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, and author of Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority.

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The Best New Place To Eat in Northern Israel

By Haaretz/ Rotem Maimon

Uri Jeremias, owns the fantastic Uri Buri fish restaurant in Akko.

Until recently, if you told someone you were going to visit Acre (known by most Israelis as Akko), you would probably have been asked, “What happened, did you lose something there?” or would have received a recommendation to try the delicious hummus at the Hummus Said restaurant.

The northern coast city was the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Crusader regime that was established with the European conquest of Jerusalem in July 1099, and which extended over a large part of Palestine and Lebanon. Throughout history, it has always been a magnet, having been captured, abandoned and resettled many times since its founding. However, after Israel became independent in 1948, Acre languished for years as a development town that just happened to have an old city of moderate interest, and to host an annual alternative theater festival that would attract outsiders to the city for a brief period. As Haifa flourished to the south, Acre continued to be considered a pale, northern version of Jaffa.

However, anyone who visits the city today can sense that something exciting is happening here. In 2001, Acre was recognized Acre as Israel’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. But since that time and, until a year ago, nothing much seemed to be going on in town. Although it could be argued that with elections coming up in October, someone in City Hall realized that Acre’s combination of antiquities, seaside location, and spice and food market could have great potential, and decided to make some improvements. Regardless, the emergence of new eateries is a clear indication that the city is raising its game. Over the past 12 months, a myriad of restaurants and places of entertainment have opened, and against the backdrop of a new culinary awareness in the Western Galilee and thanks to easy access to fresh raw materials, Acre is in line to become the north’s new culinary capital.

Read more at Haaretz.com.


Green Rocks and Posters

By Faye Gilman

The Reform Temple of Forest Hills started out as four congregations which consolidated in 1994. Two well-established Reform Temples, both in Forest Hills, merged first, followed by two smaller congregations the next year. We blended the congregants of four congregations into one, a task requiring much wisdom and diplomacy. Fortunately, those skills were on hand in abundance in the person of our Rabbi, combined with a universal determination on the part of every congregant to make us stronger than the sum of our parts.

So here we are, now a vibrant, active congregation with myriad activities, a terrific educational program that runs our age gamut, and of primary importance, wonderful religious guidance and spiritual support.

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Sustaining the Water of the Gods

By Dahlia Herzog

Honestly, I don’t like beer. No matter how many Summer barbecues and picnics I have been to, nothing has changed. You would think that that would prevent me from appreciating the process that goes into making the “water of the gods,” as a professor of mine once called it. Yet, after speaking with Katie Wallace, the sustainability specialist from New Belgium Brewery, I received a glimpse into the beauty, connection, and sustainable practices that can go into making this “godly” beverage.

It all began for New Belgium Brewery before the first beer was even sold. The two co-founders of the company decided to take a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The magnificent beauty they found in the nature around them made it inevitable that protecting that beauty would be a core value in the Brewery.

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Shabbat Moussaka and My Quest To Become Sephardi

By Tal Trachtman

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I’ll admit it — I’ve always wanted to be a Sephardi Jew.

When the thought of handmade couscous excites you more than the prospect of a Lady Gaga and Rihanna world tour, when you take desperate and unsuccessful measures to work on your tan despite your freckly fare skin and when schug (Yemenite hot sauce) is in tow at all times — you’re a Sephardi wannabe.

With roots in Belarus and Polish shtetls I easily could have grown up with Yentl Mendle’s crew. However, since early childhood, my Shabbat dinners, holidays and sometimes even entire summer vacations were spent exclusively with Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews. This, perhaps, explains my blatant obsession with Sephardi food and culture. Raised by Askenazi-Israeli parents in the U.S., our adoptive family was made up of other Israeli immigrants who took us in when we moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia.

My mother, a true master in the kitchen, quickly adapted her famous chicken soup with matzo balls and secret gefilte fish recipe to make room for delectable Sephardi goodies. Israeli food, she would explain, is the product of diverse cultures. “The food I make is a combination of Mizrahi, Sephardi, Ashkenazi and Arab elements and styles of cooking, where kreplach is served alongside chraima (North-African red braised fish) and Tunisian carrot salad is plated beside chopped liver.” She would go on to tell me that the Jews of the Diaspora brought their far-flung cuisines to the table and incorporated additional ingredients and ideas from regional Arab and Middle Eastern cuisines.

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The CSA Psolet Challenge

By Shuli Passow

courtesy of Shuli Passow

Each day I go to breakfast
Put oatmeal in my bowl
Fill up my glass with O.J.
Eat half my jelly roll
I can’t believe I took more than I ate
That’s why I have so much psolet on my plate…

Some readers of this blog may recognize these words as the lyrics to the Psolet Song, sung at mealtimes at the Teva Learning Alliance as part of an effort to teach students about the Jewish injunction of bal tashchit, not wasting. This mitzvah comes to us from the book of Deuteronomy:

“When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy [lo tashchit] its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)

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Cooking for the High Holidays? There’s an App for That

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Manischewitz company launched a new, free iPhone and Android recipe app that makes meal preparation a lot more high-tech.

Sure, the Manischewitz Recipe and Holiday Guide is something of a promotional gimmick — all of the hundreds of recipes featured include at least one Manischewitz product of some sort. But skeptics should take note that some of those Manischewitz ingredients are things like olive oil or broths, products that can easily be replaced by other brands or homemade versions.

Recipes are divided into sections — Everyday Cooking, Shabbat and holidays — both Jewish (Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Purim, Chanukah, etc.) and American (July 4th and Thanksgiving). Within each category users can also sort by Meat, Dairy and Pareve. We’re personally loving the looks of the Mexican Brisket and the Pomegranate-Braised Brisket for Rosh Hashanah.

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The Jewish Relationship with Food — Part 1

By Moment Magazine

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Moment Magazine asked 18 experts “Is There a Secret Ingredient in the Jewish Relationship with Food?” in their latest issue — and got some fascinating answers. Below are three of them and we’ll post three more in the coming days with permission from the magazine. We want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Gil Marks

There is no way you can practice Judaism religiously or culturally without food. Food has been intrinsic to Jewish ritual, life and culture from the outset. What is the very first act that the Israelites in Egypt are commanded to do? It’s to have a communal meal—roast lamb and herbs, some nice shwarma. And with that, the beginning of the Jewish people is through a meal. The famous joke—“They tried to kill us, we won, now let’s eat”—is not really that far from the truth. Within the Jewish legal framework is an understanding that various rituals are accompanied by a seudat mitzvah, or celebratory meal, whether a bris or a baby naming or a bar mitzvah or a wedding. Any sort of life cycle event is accompanied by a seudat mitzvah. Some foods are almost sanctified by their use in these meals or holidays and rituals. So food that may have not been Jewish at one point can become Jewish. Chicken soup, for example, became very popular after a meat shortage after the Black Death, leading Europe to become a chicken-raising culture. Simultaneously, Italian Jews introduced noodles to the Franco-German Jews, and chicken soup with frimzel, or egg noodles, became standard. But then what do you do on Pesach when you can’t have egg noodles—the matzoh ball or knaidel emerges. You can see the continuing adaptation that created the cultural Jewish gastronomy.

Gil Marks is a rabbi, author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food and founding editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine.

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Taking a Bite of Converso History Through Tacos

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Since 2005, Texas-born conceptual artist and former Heeb photo editor, Peter Svarzbein has been interviewing and photographing Latino families in the American Southwest who are returning to Judaism — believing their ancestors were Conversos, forced converts to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition.

Svarzbein, 33, was looking for a way for more people to feast their eyes on these portraits of Crypto Jews and to chew on the historic circumstances that connect Latinos and Jewish traditions. That’s when he came up with the idea for a food truck — a kosher taco truck, to be exact.

With the support of various organizations in his native El Paso, Svarzbein launched Conversos y Tacos Kosher Gourmet Trucks, an innovative and interactive art installation than ran for a week in the city in far West Texas in late July.

Over the week, the truck made six stops at various community and food events around El Paso (where Szarzbein grew up in a culturally Jewish family with a Hispanic-Ashkenazi background), serving fusion taco plates melding Jewish and Mexican cuisine. The food reflected the questions Svarzbein wants to challenge people with, like: How can a person be both Jewish and Latino? How can culture, religion and identity fuse together over, or through, the U.S.-Mexico border?

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The Next Generation of Ratner's Comes to Brooklyn

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Forward Archives
Old School: Ratners dairy restaurant was a staple of the New York Jewish scene for nearly 100 years.

When he opens Peck’s Specialty Foods in Brooklyn this fall, Theo Peck will be continuing a family tradition that started over 100 years ago.

Peck’s great grandfather was the founder of Ratner’s, the Lower East Side dairy restaurant (and kosher institution), which opened in 1905 and closed its doors in 2004.

“I grew up at Ratner’s,” says Peck. “I distinctly remember going there after school on Fridays, and eating pierogies and potato pancakes in the bar room off the side of the restaurant. My relatives — who all worked there — would sit around drinking whiskey, smoking cigarettes and talking about their friends and family members’ upcoming surgeries.”

In 1996, Peck returned to the family business, opening The Lansky Lounge, a speakeasy-style bar attached to Ratner’s. (“We were the only nightclub in New York City that was closed on Friday nights,” he says.)

After leaving the lounge, Peck went to culinary school. He planned to open his own restaurant in 2008, but his funds were lost in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme.

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