My guest blog post for the National Jewish Book Council, "What is a Jewish Bakery?" http://bit.ly/txLpJX
to learn the history, sad to know that we are losing it by the mass production and tampering of all food heritages. Let us hope that the home baker never becomes so weary that we pull down our sleeves and walk away from the kitchen. It's up to us to keep the dough rolling. I love being a foodie, learning from others and adding cultural foods to my food diversity. Hopefully, I will not muss-up my neighbors wonderful offerings by twisting them into a new take on an old tried-and-true simply to claim it as 'my' own. It is more important than ever to celebrate all that separates, yet makes us whole. We are all in this together. :)
Thanks for educating me, Stan.
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
A real education in a nutshell (semi-pun). Thanks for writing it.
I truly enjoy your writing Stan. Thanks for sharing those thoughts; and you're a baker too? Wow!!! That's versatility.
It's always a pleasure to be appreciated ... and yeah, I get covered in dough (the flour & water kind) from time to time ...
But where's the crumb shot?
I haven't seen Daisy on TFL for a while. She would enjoy your piece too, being a cultural historian of cooking.
One role played by the Jews has been to carry the foods developed in one host country to others, usually as the result of imigration due to persecution. What could be more Italian than fried artechokes or more Greek than fideos? Both were brought to those countries by Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal in 1492.
Maybe, someday some one will ask, "What could be more American" than bagels?" Just a thought.
Stan, Thanks for the fantastic essay. I have no doubt that most of us on TFL agree with the points made and share your interests. By the way, you might consider using this as a foreword to your next book on the subject. It makes a great intro.
Most of what I read in your blog was new to me or at least the details and time line. But I'm left wondering what the original bread of the Jewish people was and if that bread has been brought forward? I would guess a flat bread of sorts but surely there is record of the dominate bread of the day.
Someone said earlier something like they would buy the cookbook even if it had no recipes, it is that important for the history. I agree and am doubly glad to have the recipes too! Great article about both-
I have actually been looking for a Jewish Baking cookbook and had planned on another one until I ran across your post and your enlightening article. I did try to see inside the book at Amazon, but that isn't available at the moment.
Could you let us know if the recipes are by weight (preferably metric) or by volume?
All good things,
Yes, they are by weight (both ounces and grams) and volume.
When you get the book, go here: http://www.insidethejewishbakery.com/ to pick up the corrections for the text. It's a first edition and, as you might expect, there are some bugs to be worked out.
Log on with the Inside the Jewish Bakery Challenge forum and you can follow the discussion that have taken place about this book over the past six or eight weeks.
Thank you. I'll be getting adding this to my library as soon as I can. I tried looking for the Challenge and was not able to find it at the web site link above unfortunately.
A wonderful and thoughtful piece of writing. Love the consideration of just what a Jewish Bakery is, and agree, that its the almalgum of all the years of moving from one place to another and taking bits of all the places and making them Jewish through the use of your religion and dietary rules.
I have recipes that are family ones, and they also show the movement of my family from area to area, with things like persimmons, pecans, and cornbread, and a Pennsylvania Dutch item Scrapple, all adapted to the family tastes and needs at the time, but still cooked and served as a "family" recipe!
The Book makes me think of them everytime I look at it! Its just a way to extend my family recipe collection to include a bit of Jewish culture and make my family a bit more informed of past history and cultures of other countries. I would love to be able to walk into a "Jewish Bakery" and see these lovely items hand crafted and loveingly displayed, of course I'd probably roll back out the door with my sugar levels maxed to the limit, but hey what's that compared to being able to experience something like a bakery and the cultural heritage that goes with it! Safeway just doesn't cut it!
Brilliant piece of writing, Stan, as we've already come to know via ITJB--reflecting your deep and broad view of Jewish and general history, as well as expressing those things that are near and dear to you. I've saved and printed it and shared it with my bread-baking/appreciating friends. My only question is with, in the final paragraph, "its own Holocaust . . ." Strong word, a unique reference in my view. But I admit it's hard to find a suitable synonym.
Having read all the comments above leads me to believe that we are all here because the fine art of cooking, baking, et al, is being lost in the amalgamation of the supermarkets. I've started baking my own breads because I really lost my appetite for even the "artisan" breads at the local store. I baked my first loaves this past weekend and was astonished at the taste and texture difference from even my humble first attempt. I know that time is extemely important to everyone in today's fast paced world. But, it's theraputic to me. And also allows me to go back to our roots, not to mention keeping all those unpronouncable chemicals out of my body.
Your otherwise great article was, unfortunately ruined by your misuse of the term Holocaust at the end. Social change in neighborhoods is as regrettable as it is inevitable. The loss of traditional foods and other lifestyles is too. Still using the term Holocaust to decribe closing bakieries and other businesses is, to put it mildly, inappropriate, in the extreme. I am sure the literally millions of Jews, Cambodians, Poles, Rwandans, Ethiopians, Armenians (and, unfortunately, too many more) murdered in real Holocausts would agree that you have sadly, cheapened their memory. Please try to be more accurate in choosing words. Words are, ultimately, very powerful things.
thoughts on the use of the work holocaust in the article. I don't believe he was using it to describe the loss of the local bakeries and social change, but rather the fact that we are being waged war upon by big business and chemical living proponents. While the attitude towards drugs is adamant that they are bad, (heroin, marijana and other herbal based drugs as well as fancy designer chemical drugs) the prevalent attitude towards just as bad a drugs or chemicals in foods is shrugged off as they have to keep the food fresh, etc.
I was just in my local co-op store, they have an instore bakery, so does the Safeway, not one of them actually mixes any baked goods onsite unless possibly the cakes are made in the store. All the stuff is premade, frozen shipped, they explained to me that they get two trucks a week from the bakery supplier, and this means that they have limited supplies of various items. The Safeway prints out tags with all the ingredients in the breads, cookies etc, and some of the chemical names that show up are multi sylibic and unpronoucable. I consider this to be war on food, on people, and on the pocket book, and why? So they don't have to pay someone what they are worth to mix and bake "real" breads and deal with the attendant book keepping and supply chain. But the real problems that are accrued with this format are when the weather is bad, the trucks don't arrive, and then you have no bread, and unfortunately no one can make any either!
The same thing is happening with produce, and the bland all tastes the same turnips, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage that rots before you get it from the store, lettuce that who knows how far its been shipped, and how long its been picked, and all the rest of the so called modern food chain, with the emphasis on grow it fast and ship it fast and don't tell anyone how much chemicals, and drugs we've fed the animals or the plants.
Don't get me wrong. I agree that the industrialization of the food chain is a terrible thing. I agree that commercial consideratons (shelf-life, shipping costs, etc.) have resulted in food of much poorer quality, not to mention taste. I just think that the word Holocaust should be reserved for something greater in scope and impact - like the murder of innocent millions, that has, unfortunately, happened all over the globe and to many peoples, both before and since WWII. I am not sure the people of, say, Darfur, would consider closing stores, tomatoes with no taste, chemical-laden food, etc., as terrible as that is, to be a Holocaust.
the definition of halocaust, yours seems to be narrow as to be genocide which is one definition and probably the most common associated with the word, but to me holocaust is complete devastation not confined to one genre or type of thing, but complete.
The people in Darfur of course would not consider any of those things to be a holocaust in their terms, but if you consider the health implications of all of those things, the fact that there are many areas in the US (which is continutally trumpeted as the richest nation on earth) have no stores that even sell such items, and certainly don't have a bakery, what do you call commercialization of food but complete devastation. Its all well and good to say exercise and eat right, but when places like McDonalds (which serve good food, just not well balanced) are the only places in areas of deep poverty, and schools and parents no longer teach things like cooking or housekeeping, then those people in that area are in as much peril as the ones in Darfur just a different type, but to them in the area they are in, its a holocaust in their terms.
Devastation is devastation whether its of people, or of social values, or of food and food processing. its all in the definition of things, and the point of view of the person whose ox is being gored.
Ten years ago, we had two bakeries in town, one an organic one, now we have a stuggling bakery that doesn't make good bread, and two so called bakeries that bake frozen product that is trucked in twice a week, while all of them may keep you alive, they don't speak to the soul. I can remember several bakeries in my past that had wonderful products, but they lost out to the appeal of cheap goods and the bottom line! If you aren't willing to make your own, or able to do so, then you eat pap from the chain stores and survive, but if you can manage it why do that when you could eat well, and have something to feed the soul as well. That is what Stan is saying, the local soul feeding bakeries of his youth have all departed to the chain stores and suburbia and the gotta have it now mania, and lost the ability to actually feed the human or the soul. I call that holocaust, you don't.
I think Stan knows better than most people the power of words; he is, after all, a wordsmith. Perhaps "wreaking its own devastation" would suffice?