Jewish Cuisine in Hungary
A Cultural History with 83 Authentic Recipes
Winner of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Food Writing & Cookbooks.
The author refuses to accept that the world of pre-Shoah Hungarian Jewry and its cuisine should disappear almost without a trace and feels compelled to reconstruct its culinary culture. His bookwith a preface by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblettpresents eating habits not as isolated acts, divorced from their social and religious contexts, but as an organic part of a way of life.
According to Kirshenblatt-Gimblett: "While cookbooks abound, there is no other study that can compare with this book. It is simply the most comprehensive account of a Jewish food culture to date." Indeed, no comparable study exists about the Jewish cuisine of any country, orfor that matterabout Hungarian cuisine. It describes the extraordinary diversity that characterized the world of Hungarian Jews, in which what could or could not be eaten was determined not only by absolute rules, but also by dietary traditions of particular religious movements or particular communities.
Ten chapters cover the culinary culture and eating habits of Hungarian Jewry up to the 1940s, ranging from kashrut (the system of keeping the kitchen kosher) through the history of cookbooks, the food traditions of weekdays and holidays, the diversity of households, and descriptions of food and hospitality industries to the history of some typical dishes. Although this book is primarily a cultural history and not a cookbook, it includes 83 recipes, as well as nearly 200 fascinating pictures of daily life and documents.
About the Author
András Koerner was born in 1940 in Budapest. After receiving his degree in architecture he worked for several years as an architect. In 1967, he moved to the United States, where he continued the same career. Since his retirement, he dedicates his time mostly to writing and organizing exhibitions. He is author of the award-winning Jewish Cuisine in Hungary (CEU Press 2019).
"Readers looking for a typical cookbook may be alarmed when they dig into this gorgeous volume. While the subtitle advertises eighty-three authentic recipes, neither many of the ingredients (goose, carp, giblets, boiled beef) nor the techniques (stuffing goose necks, making pudding from smoked beef) seem particularly accessible. Yet this book is quite irresistible. Beyond the honesty and charm, it's Koerner's commitment to defying Nazi destruction, to saving Hungarian Jewish culture, that makes this book so compelling. Jewish Cuisine in Hungary is righteous scholarship."—Jewish Book Council
"This is a rigorously researched, engagingly written recreation of daily life filled with rarely seen photographs and pen and ink illustrations by Koerner himself. I adored this book.... Koerner focuses on the objects, food, and people that were an integral part of his great-grandmother's everyday existence. These alluring pages rescue a way of life from oblivion via an indelible portrait of an observant Jewish woman who serves as a representative of her entire community. Much is illuminated through her recipes and her great-grandson's loving illustrations."—The Arts Fuse
Ultimately, Koerner sheds new light on prewar Hungarian Jewish life by exploring the role food plays in its culture in such innovative ways, and so too does he help us understand the Hungarian Jewish place in broader Jewish food culture. Jewish Cuisine in Hungary will no doubt serve as an essential historical reference for years to come, while also modeling what's possible in the field of food scholarship."—National Jewish Book Award
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