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December 1, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

Jewish Cuisine in Hungary

A Cultural History with 83 Authentic Recipes

Edited by Andras Koerner
Winner of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Food Writing & Cookbooks

András Koerner refuses to accept that the vanished world of preShoah Hungarian Jewry and its cuisine should disappear virtually without a trace and feels compelled to reconstruct its culinary culture. His book presents eating habits not as isolated things, divorced from their social and religious contexts, but as organic parts of one's way of life. In the extraordinarily diverse world of Jews, what can and cannot be eaten is determined by not only absolute rules, but also by dietary traditions singular to only certain religious movements or to some communities. Even secularized Jews frequently preserved something from the typical flavors of their ancestors' cuisine. Their repertory of dishes and their culinary customs represented an integral part of the assimilated lifestyles and it is absolutely justified to include them in a study of Jewish cuisine. The richness and diversity of culinary traditions and eating habits of Hungarian Jewry up to the 1940s is discussed in ten chapters ranging from kashrut (the system of keeping the kitchen kosher) thru dishes for feasts to characteristic dishes. Although this book is primarily a cultural history and not a cookbook, it includes 83 recipes. They are featured here mainly as documents and less so as guides to practical cooking, though in cases their original texts are complemented with adaptations to the requirements of today's kitchens.

About the Author

András Koerner is the author of numerous books. He was born in Budapest and has been living since 1968 in the US. Most of his works focus on the everyday lives and cuisine of Hungarian Jews before the Holocaust, but he has also published books about early 20th-century cabaret songs written by Hungarian poets and about an artist active in the German Bauhaus in the 1920s, as well as a volume of personal essays. He is a winner of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award for his book about the cultural history of Jewish cuisine in Hungary.


This labor of love is also a work of erudition that demonstrates the importance of food as an area of serious study. While cookbooks abound, there is no other study of Jewish food that can compare with this book. Even as a work of scholarship, this volume whets the appetite. What we have here is not only comprehensive in its historical and regional scope, but also in attending to all aspects of Hungarian Jewish food culture. Indeed, as a social history of Hungarian food culture, this book examines the changing circumstances of Hungarian Jewish life and the many ways of being Hungarian and Jewish. The result is the most complete account of a Jewish food culture to date. As the author richly demonstrates, food is more than cuisine. The social and cultural practices, the meanings and feelings associated with food define it as much as the ingredients and their preparation. This is revealed in the minutely detailed descriptions of food and social life in memoirs, autobiographies, travel accounts, literature, and ethnographies, which are but a few of the many sources the author mines. - Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University and Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

9789633862735 : jewish-cuisine-in-hungary-koerner
Paperback / softback
420 Pages
$60.00 USD

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How They Lived 2

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How They Lived

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