The Jew And The Carrot

Katz's Wins the Name Game Battle

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) — The New York City delicatessen Katz’s has won a legal battle to force a Florida restaurant to change its name, according to court documents made public on Monday.

Katz’s Delicatessen, founded in 1888, sued Katz’s Deli of Deerfield Beach in June, claiming that the Florida restaurant had blatantly infringed on its trademark rights and tried to profit illegally from its name and reputation.

Both establishments sell Jewish and Kosher-style deli food.

Katz’s Delicatessen of Deerfield agreed to change its name in the settlement, which was signed in Manhattan federal court last week.

The Deerfield Beach restaurant owner, Charles Re, said he agreed to the change because keeping the name was not worth the legal troubles.

“It wasn’t something that we needed to have to sustain ourselves,” Re said.

Re, who is originally from the New York City borough of the Bronx, said he would change the name of his restaurant to Zak’s Deli.

Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has been seen in a several movies including and in television shows such as “Law & Order” and shows on Food Network and Travel Channel.

Its best-known screen appearance may be in the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally,” with the character played by Meg Ryan faking an orgasm during a meal with Billy Crystal’s character.

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The Year I Ate My Heart Out

By Molly Oberstein-Allen

The second semester of my freshman year of college, I was lucky enough to study abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Although I’d been to Israel before on school, family, and youth group trips, my study abroad experience gave me a deeper experience of, and as a result, commitment to, the country than I’d ever had before. I got to explore the places that don’t usually appear on tourist itineraries and make friends with both native Israelis and Palestinians. Because I was so young when I studied abroad, it also happened that I learned how to do my own grocery shopping in the Israeli shuk. As anyone who’s been to Israel knows, the shuk is loud, colorful, and bustling - a far cry from the tidy fluorescent-lit Costco aisles I was used to commanding with my mother on Thursday afternoons.

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President Obama Stops By Canter's Deli

By Rachel X. Landes

President Obama visited Canter’s Deli today, an old favorite of Jews in Los Angeles. Over the course of the meal, he sat with a teacher, a wounded veteran, and two women entering the job market, according to Mark Knoller, CBS’s White House correspondent.

Canter’s opened in 1931, and has always been a family-owned business dedicated to providing classic Jewish deli foods for the L.A. area.

Let’s hope the President had the good sense to order the matzo ball soup. Goodness knows he’ll probably need some comfort food to go with everyone’s kvetching.

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Nouveau Jewish Food Hits Streets of Manhattan

By Michael Kaminer

Workmen’s Circle poster advertising the Taste of Jewish Culture street fair // Facebook

New York’s got so many hip new delis that it may be as easy to find gefilte fish and borscht as it was in 1892, when The Workmen’s Circle held its first meeting on the Lower East Side.

So it’s no small irony that the social-justice organization is hosting the city’s first street fair aimed at showcasing smart new iterations of traditional Jewish cuisine.

The Workmen’s Circle Taste of Jewish Culture, set for July 27 on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, is actually the organization’s sixth outdoor festival, but the first focused on food.

The slate of exhibitors reads like a nouveau-deli who’s who, including Mile End, Shelsky’s of Brooklyn, Peck’s, Baz Bagel, and Gefilteria.

“The fair has always featured klezmer and social-justice-themed music,” executive director Ann Toback told the Forward by e-mail from a tour bus in Poland, where she’s researching Ashkenazi culture. “But we’ve also been experimenting with it as a chance to connect with larger audiences.”

Sharing Jewish food “is about as authentic a Jewish experience as you can get,” she said. “And selling Jewish-inspired foods via a street experience is quintessentially Jewish. It’s a perfect place to share our cultural heritage with a wide swath of New Yorkers.”

To corral the right mix of vendors, Toback tapped Noah Arenstein, the peripatetic lawyer-cum-foodie whose most recent venture, pop-up eatery Scharf & Zoyer, offered over-the-top novelties like kugel sandwiches.

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A Taste of Tel Aviv in New Orleans

By Sigal Samuel and Anne Cohen

Israeli-born chef Alon Shaya cooks an eggplant and okra dish in his New Orleans restaurant.

Nearly 300 years after Louis the XIV’s “Code Noir” ordered all Jews out of Louisiana, Israeli-born chef Alon Shaya set up shop in New Orleans.

Shaya’s restaurant, Domenica, opened as a traditional Italian restaurant in 2009. Slowly but surely, however, Israeli flavors started to seep into his menu. The result? Italian staples like slow-roasted goat shoulder and broccoli rabe find themselves folded into shakshuka.

“When you’re Israeli, food is a huge part of your culture,” Shaya said. “There’s no like ‘Oh, I’m not into that.’”

Born in Bat Yam, a coastal town in Israel, Shaya moved with his family to Philadelphia when he was 4 years old. As the head of a struggling immigrant family, his mother worked two jobs to make ends meet. As a result, Shaya would often cook dinner for the family. His meals started off simple: a microwaved potato with cheese. But on those rare special occasions when his Israeli grandparents would come to visit, the kitchen would fill with the comforting smells of roasting vegetables, infused with the flavors of his Savta’s Bulgarian ancestry.

“I fell in love with food because my grandmother would come from Israel every year,” Shaya explained. “I would never know when she was arriving so when I would open the door and smell peppers roasting on an open flame, it was like ‘Oh my God, Savta’s here!’ That started creating a connection between the smell of food and family.”

The next few years were tumultuous to say the least. By his own admission, Shaya was “a shitty little kid” who fell in with “the wrong crowd.” He was constantly getting kicked out of class. His salvation came in the form of a Home Economics teacher who would put him to work chopping onions when others teachers booted him out.

“She really was the turning point for me to get serious about something. She got me my first restaurant job, she drove me there, she checked up on me that I was showing up on time.”

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Shaya spent some time cooking at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and Antonio’s Ristorante in St. Louis.

He spent 2007 in Italy to soak up the techniques he would need to open Domenica.

With the restaurant established, he was surprised to find himself introducing Israeli dishes into his repertoire. He started small: a dish of tahini here, an Israeli bottle of wine there. The customers went wild.

“We were selling more Israeli wine here than anywhere in the state of Louisiana,” Shaya laughed.

Today, Shaya hosts Passover and Hannukah meals at the restaurant, serving dishes like zaa’tar buttermilk biscuits with babaganoush, latkes with a side of creole-cream-cheese-stuffed deviled eggs topped with salmon roe, and Sicilian sea-salt matzo with olives and rosemary. The Passover menu can draw in up to 400 people.

Shaya is the first to say that he’s “fallen head over heels” for New Orleans. His kitchen is well-stocked with locally sourced Southern ingredients — and he often blends them with Israeli flavors.

Though Shaya says there have been “many failed experiments,” his fire-roasted eggplant stuffed with okra and drizzled with tahini is not one of them. Each spoonful was a surprising fusion of Tel Aviv and the Big Easy. The chef pointed out that the eggplant and okra are grown in nearby farms — and to him, that’s important.

“Food doesn’t have to be fried chicken for it to be Southern,” Shaya explained. “It just has to be from the South.”

Alon Shaya shared his recipe for okra-stuffed coal-roasted eggplant with the Forward. Try it for yourself at home!

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4 Things Sabra Teaches Us About Hummus

By Anne Cohen

Thursday May 15 is National Hummus Day. If you’ve been paying attention to Jewish food trends, you might also be aware that 2014 has been declared “The Year of the Hummus.”

That’s a lot of chickpeas.

To celebrate, Sabra (the official dips sponsor to the NFL!) has written a (not-so) handy guide to teach hummus philistines about Israel’s national dip. Here are just some of the things we learned from “Hummus for Dummies”:

1. How to pronounce “hummus”

Do you end in Oos, in Iss, in Uss? According to “Hummus for Dummies,” hummus is a “fun word,” yet difficult to pronounce. Pretty straightforward so far. Then it gets weird:

Some people will tell you that it starts with a “choo” sound made toward the back of your throat (less “choo-choo train” — more “achtung baby”).

If in doubt, you can always just call it “yummus.”

2. Hummus can be fruity

We are told that hummus is a “rich, smooth, creamy dip” made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, spices, oils, vegetables — and fruits? Mango in your hummus, really?

If that’s not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, the guide also offers recipes for hummus-based desserts like “Chocolate Hummus Truffles,” and “Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries.”

3. “Chickpeas are sometimes confused with nuts.”

Are they? Why? A section called “Browsing through interesting hummus facts” explains that because you can roast and season chickpeas, innocent bystanders could taste the crunchy — and yes, granted — slightly nutty legume and get confused. So once again, just in case you missed that class: Chickpeas are not nuts.

4. Hummus “loves you back.”

Any fan of the veggie-tray can tell you that it’s the dip that packs on the pounds. But now, you can enjoy those fresh carrot and celery sticks the way God intended you to — ”hummus can be the fresh flavorful answer to the prayers at the center of your vegetable tray.” Glad we cleared that one up.

Just kidding Sabra. We love hummus too.

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James Deen, Jewish Porn Star — And Foodie?

By Anne Cohen

Turns out, James Deen has hobbies. And those hobbies include food.

The Jewish porn star is now the face of a culinary web series, aptly named “James Deen Loves Food.” Produced by Woodrocket.com (a porn/comedy site that is definitey NSFW), past episodes have shown Deen coming up with the world’ most expensive burrito, ordering the entire menu at his local Burger King, and testing which brand makes the superior Ketchup. Oh, and he also sampled various serial killers’ last meals.

Woodrocket.com

“I am a Jew! Of course I love food,” he told Heeb magazine in a recent Q&A. “I am pretty sure if you don’t, they stop inviting you to the meetings and drop your credit score.”

So, with Passover coming up, it’s fitting that Deen’s latest culinary venture has a Jewish theme: Ramen Matzo Ball soup.

According to the chef, the final product was “pretty good. It was definitely more on the ramen side. But the extra sodium added some flavor that normal Jewish cuisine lacks.”

You can catch the full episode here, and get the recipe over at Heeb. Watch (and eat) at your own risk.

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$6 For a Knish? Welcome to the Super Bowl

By Anna Goldenberg

If you have tickets for the Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium this Sunday, and you’re planning to munch on some kosher snacks while watching the battle between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, you’d better bring some extra cash: This stuff’s not cheap.

As the Forward reported, this year’s event is likely to be the most kosher Super Bowl ever. A significant number of the ticket holders for the 82,000 seats are expected to be Jewish; the stadium features a praying area — and a solid selection of kosher food.

But it comes at a hefty price: The kosher caterers charge $13 for a turkey or chicken wrap, $13 for chicken wings and $11 for a hot dog with chips (Hebrew National, of course). And don’t forget to tip! If you want to save money, we recommend a knish: The dough snacks go for $6 per piece.

After shelling out $1,000 (at the very least) for a ticket, $13 for a wrap might actually seem a bargain. If not, you could always bring your own food.

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Sherryl Betesh’s Syrian Kibbe Nabelsieh: Recipe

By Sherryl Betesh

Sherryl Betesh’s Kibbe Nabelsieh: Meat-Filled Bulgur Shells

Filling:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Dough:
3 cups fine bulgur wheat
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying

Lemon wedges, for serving

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Learning Syrian Jewish Kitchen Classics

By Anne Cohen

All good Jewish kids know that nothing beats your bubbe’s brisket.

That heartwarming philosophy is basically the premise of Mo Rocca’s cooking show, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli, ” which pays tribute to the culinary wizards behind each family’s recipes.

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125 Years of Katz's Deli

By Lauren Rothman

Bauer and Dean Publishers

There are a handful of New York City landmarks that most people recognize: Lady Liberty. The Chrysler Building. And Katz’s Delicatessen.

Opened on the Lower East Side in 1888 and purchased by the Russian Katz family in 1903, the delicatessen famous for its orgasmic pastrami sandwiches, its Friday evening frankfurters ‘n’ beans and its Cel-Ray soda is one of the oldest continually operating businesses in New York City. And, at the ripe age of 125, Katz’s is still going strong: each week, the deli serves up more than 10,000 pounds of pastrami, 6,000 pounds of corned beef, and 4,000 hot dogs to locals and tourists alike. That’s a lot of cow.

Katz’s has attracted its fair share of attention over the years. But no one had ever written a book about it until now. In September, current part owner Jake Dell wrote the introduction to Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen in which he traces the famed storefront’s evolution from a tight-knit neighborhood joint to a star-studded celebrity hangout at the height of the early 1900s Yiddish theatre boom to a can’t-miss tourist attraction in the oughts. Large-format, full-color photos by Baldomero Fernandez detailing every nook and cranny of the restaurant accompany Dell’s text.

When it comes to publishing food or cookbooks, it’s usually the restaurant chef or owner that approaches the publisher with an idea. But in the case of Katz’s, Dell said, it was Bauer and Dean Publishers that, a few years ago, came to him. With the big anniversary fast approaching, Dell thought the timing was perfect.

“It was kind of a no-brainer,” he said.

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Where To Eat on Thanksgivukkah — and Hanukkah

By Molly Yeh

A once in a lifetime holiday that combines two of the most tasty holidays is a really serious event. Latkes, presents, lighting the menorah, making stuffing, and a turkey on the same night? Talk about a lot of pressure. We’d totally understand if you’re just not feeling up for making pumpkin sufganiyot. And we think you’ll family will understand too once they see some of your other options.

Restaurants aren’t taking Thanksgivukkah lightly. They’re bringing out the big guns in the form of challah stuffing, burnt marshmallow challah donuts, sweet potato latkes, and more. With delectable options like these, it’s a shame we won’t see them again for 79,000 years.

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Save Eli's!

By JTA

WASHINGTON — Eli’s Restaurant, a popular kosher eatery in Washington D.C., frequented by politicians, lobbyists and government workers, may have a date with the wrecking ball.

According to a petition being circulated on Change.org, its “current storefront will be demolished as part of a redevelopment plan.”

The petition, which had 100 signatures as of Tuesday, wants the owners to know “how important it is that they find a new location in DC and continue to serve the downtown Jewish community.”

The restaurant has been serving corned beef sandwiches, hamburgers and soups at its location near DuPont Circle, at the southeast corner of the intersection of N and 20th streets, NW, since 2004.

Efforts to speak with the restaurant’s management were unsuccessful.

At least one other kosher eatery is open in downtown Washington — in the local JCC.

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Mixing Israeli Food and Spirit in Berlin

By Anna Goldenberg

Courtesy of Keren Shahar-Karbe

It could be just another store renovation in Berlin’s thriving Mitte-district. But Keren Shahar-Karbe is beaming as she walks through the empty rooms of a former art gallery. Some walls have holes and cables stick out of them. “So much has already changed,” Shahar-Karbe said, visibly excited.

In September, the 34-year-old Israeli started renovating the retail space with the two large windows and a door that opens to tree-lined Torstrasse, a street filled with cafés and shops. A few weeks from now, Shahar-Karbe, who currently runs the kosher catering service Keren’s Jewish Kitchen together with her husband, will be opening her own kosher Israeli café and bistro in this space. It aims to be a place for Berlin’s growing Israeli community as well as lovers of Israeli food and culture to connect and hang out.

The house belonged to a Jewish family until they were dispossessed by the Nazis. In the early ’90s, it was used as a squatter camp for anarchists. Now it is back in the possession of the original owners, who live in Israel. Shahar-Karbe plans to put up a plaque commemorating its history — right next to the library of Hebrew books and gallery of Jewish art for which she has dedicated the backroom.

Shahar-Karbe, a Jerusalem native, is a gastronomy veteran. “I did the whole circle around the kitchen work,” she says. She started working next to her studies during high school, and has since worked as a dishwasher, waitress, cook and baker. From early on, she would help her grandmothers in the kitchen, where she learnt to prepare typical dishes of the Mizrahi cuisine — some of which are still her favorites today: kibbeh (stuffed croquette), jachnun (rolled pastry) and bourekas (filled pastry).

It wasn’t until she moved to Berlin five years ago — “for pragmatic reasons”, she points out — that she turned her passion into full-time profession. “I tried all sorts of directions in my life,” said Shahar-Karbe, who also worked with children, as a mortgage consultant and in a bike shop, just to name a few. “But always the kitchen somehow came back,” she added. “And finally I had to say, well, that’s where I am.”

Read Shahar-Kerbe’s recipe for Shakshuka With Feta Cheese

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High Plains Shabbat

By Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

In August, I left Brooklyn and moved to the North Dakota-Minnesota border where my boyfriend, Nick, is a fifth-generation farmer. I arrived just in time for harvest, so with Nick’s 14-hour tractor shifts, our Shabbat meals have been improvised, eaten out of Thermoses, and rustic. (“Rustic” is just my glorified way of saying that bits of soil from the field may or may not have made their way onto our utensils by the time we ate.)

What the locals don’t specify when you’re warned about the brutal winters here is that soup weather arrives much earlier than it does in Brooklyn. Which is something to celebrate; you take what you can when the tales of -40 degree temperatures start circulating. And so my favorite Shabbat meal thus far was a few weeks ago during navy bean harvest. It consisted of a simple but filling soup, shared with Nick during a very bumpy chisel-plowing ride.

The soup is a lentil soup, and it’s one that I made nearly every week during soup weather when I lived in Brooklyn. I’d add kale from the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and sausage from Fleischer’s; this time I added kale from the farmstead garden and sausage from a local turkey farm. Both renditions were amazing.

Perched up on our little tractor seats, two spoons and one Thermos, our first bites instantly brought us back to Brooklyn in the fall. It was the kind of nostalgia that you really only get from a warm comforting dish, and it came on like a strong drink on an empty stomach. As the sun went down, we gobbled up that soup, and I peered out the tractor window where the crops stretched into the horizon. It wasn’t a traditional Shabbat, and admittedly it wasn’t totally restful either, but it was indeed memorable, beautiful, and delicious.

Click here for Molly Yeh’s recipe for lentil, sausage and kale soup to warm those cold Shabbat nights.

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A Taste of the Tenements

By Anne Cohen

David X. Prutting/BFAnyc.com
Cake in the shape of 97 Orchard Street

If you’re an American Jew, there’s a pretty good chance that somewhere, somehow, someone in your family made dinner on the Lower East Side.

Though the area has been home to a countless nationalities and ethnic groups, it holds a special place in the hearts of American Jews, many of whom can trace their first foothold in the country back to “the old neighborhood.”

On June 5, the Tenement Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the 150th anniversary of the restored building at 97 Orchard Street, which housed over 7,000 people from more than 20 countries from 1863 to 1935.

As a tribute to the many sights and smells imprinted into the tenement’s walls, the gala was set up as an edible timeline, a “taste of the tenements,” catered by current local vendors and restaurants and inspired by the neighborhood’s residents. Here’s a window into what they would have been eating, and where you can find those treats today.

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In the Kitchen with Israeli Chef Einat Admony

By Anne Cohen

Chef Einat Admony
Courtesy: Einat Admony

When you can cook Shabbat dinner for 30-40 people, opening a restaurant is a cakewalk. Or so it seems for chef Einat Admony of Taim and Balaboosta fame, whose third restaurant, Bar Bolonat, will open in “hopefully mid-July” on the corner of Hudson and 12th Avenue in New York’s West Village.

The Forward’s Anne Cohen recently spoke by telephone with Admony to talk about what “New Israeli” food means to her, if she ever gets tired of cooking it, and how this restaurant is different from the others.

She even gave us a sneak peak at the menu… Judging by her descriptions, we should start counting down the days to “mid-July.”

How would you describe the food at Bar Bolonat?

New Israeli cuisine mostly, it’s very playful. It’s a little more elevated than Balaboosta. Over there is going to be a lot of twists on traditional food.

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Mixing Bowl: Nate Silver's Burrito Blog, Reubans

By Blair Thornburgh

Thinkstock

Take a tasty tour through New York’s Holyland Market for Israeli staples from amba to za’atar. [Serious Eats]

Healthy, fall ingredients like carrots, quinoa and caraway seeds combine to re-imagine the traditional kugel four times over. [The New York Times]

Ever tried a vegan Reuben before? Locali, a “conscious convenience store” in Los Feliz, Calif., uses tofu, pickling spices and Daiya cheese for a clever, cruelty-free copy. [LA Weekly]

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver: statistics savant, presidential pick predictor … food blogger? His Burrito Bracket blog from back in the day puts tacos from his (and President Obama’s) Chicago home in an NCAA-style bracket. [Grub Street]

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Twist on Classic Salt Cod Mousse

By Alessandra Rovati

dinnerinvenice.com

In 1432 a Venetian captain, Pietro Querini, returned home after surviving a terrible shipwreck off the Northern coast of Norway, and described for the first time the stocfisi (dried salt cod) he had tasted in the remote islands where he’d been nursed back to health. His description probably went largely unnoticed at the time, given the abundance of fresh fish in the waters of the lagoon.

Baccalà (stockfish) is a particularly tough kind of dried salt cod, sold by the slab. It became such a staple in Europe in the Middle Ages that it supported the expansion of trade routes with the New World; soon it was popping up in the traditional dishes of areas as diverse as Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, West Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil.

However, it wasn’t until the 1500s that Venice becomes its main point of distribution. The Council of Trento (1555), prohibiting meat to Christians on Fridays, probably gave it a little push; so did the Spanish Portuguese Jews and conversos who settled in Venice after the expulsion, and were already accustomed to eating it. As a matter of fact, for a while it was considered (like pickled fish) a “Jewish food,” which could draw the unwelcome attention of the Inquisition.

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Celebrating Carrots In Their Own Right

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

Although carrots often play a supporting role in the culinary world, I’ve long appreciated them in their own right. As a baby I turned a subtle hue of orange from consuming so much carrot puree, and as a child I happily mimicked my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny, by chomping on carrots every chance I got. Apparently the world has caught up, since a recent New York Times article declared carrots the new Brussels sprouts.

Carrots probably originated in Afghanistan from a purple variety thousands of years ago, and have been enjoyed for their culinary and medicinal purposes ever since. Today they’re more popular than ever, with the average American eating nearly 10 pounds per year, according to a USDA report on the subject.

Though they have a long history, carrots don’t appear alongside the seven species of the Old Testament, and Gil Marks points out in The Encyclopedia of Jewish Cooking that “The carrot, never mentioned in the Talmud or Midrash, was a rather late arrival to the Middle East and Jewish cookery.”

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