Nonpareils, plus book recommendation

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at
Mon Apr 2 08:53:01 EDT 2001

>I can't believe that
>East End Jews were trying to emulate Americans! This place has been around
>for too long to be jumping on some kind of trendy food bandwagon. Please

I think the point is, that bagels as they are currently known (bagels and 
lox) are an American Jewish development. They probably had their roots in 
some sort of European pretzel that was first boiled, then baked, but they 
only became famous when they immigrated to America. So they are just as much 
American as they are Jewish, perhaps like Jazz, which is both American and 

A few days ago someone here asked about Jewish foods, and I lost the message 
before I could reply. I think the question was about the similarity between 
Eastern European cuisine and what is known as Jewish cuisine, which came 
first. And I think the answer is that neither really came first: cuisines 
develop to match the needs and conditions in a certain society. Where meat 
is expensive, but people expect to eat meat with every meal and the climate 
is not condusive to growing a large variety of vegetables, all sorts of ways 
of stretching the use of meat and using every last bit of meat: boil the 
hooves for calf's foot jelly (eugh), make tail soup, stuff the intestines 
with breadcrumbs, make tiny portions of meat seem more satisfying by 
encasing them in dough as dumplings, chop carp as finely as possible so that 
this incredibly bony fish can nonetheless be eaten by children as well, 

Thus each country developed different cuisines, and each Jewish community 
developed different Jewish cuisines because Jews were subject to more 
dietary restrictions than their neighbors, for religious reasons. What is 
known in America as Jewish food is really just the particular Jewish food of 
Eastern European. Eastern European Jews immigrated to America in large 
numbers and settled together, effectively importing most of their culture 
with them. But there are particular Jewish cuisines native to other parts of 
the world: Morrocan Jewish foods and Yemenite Jewish foods are quite 
different than European Jewish foods, though they solve some of the same 
problems such as not cooking meat with milk, not lighting any fires for one 
day each week, and avoiding products like seafood and pork.
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