American Jewish Cuisine
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American Jewish Cuisine

American Jewish cuisine comprises the food, cooking, and dining customs associated with American Jews.[1] It was heavily influenced by the cuisine of Jewish immigrants who came to the United States from Eastern Europe around the turn of the 20th century.[2][3] It was further developed in unique ways by the immigrants and their descendants, especially in New York City and other large metropolitan areas of the northeastern U.S.[4][5]

History

Between 1881 and 1921, around 2.5 million Jews immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe.[3] Most of them settled in large cities in the northeastern part of the country, especially New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Chicago.[6] These immigrants brought with them a well-developed culinary heritage. The cuisine continued to evolve in America, in the homes of the immigrants and their descendants, and in delicatessens and appetizing stores in New York City and elsewhere.[1]

Delicatessens were quite popular among second-generation American Jews, especially in the mid-twentieth century. They provided a place for the patrons to socialize in a comfortable environment. They also popularized some of the dishes now associated with American Jewish cuisine, which were affordable for their upwardly mobile customers, but which would have seemed luxurious to their European ancestors.[7][8][9] Though not as numerous as they once were, delicatessens continue to be popular dining destinations.[10][11][12]

Kosher food

Kosher food is food that conforms to kashrut, i.e. Jewish dietary laws. Under these rules, some foods - for example, pork and shellfish - are forbidden. Any meat must come from an animal that was slaughtered using a process known as shechita. Jewish dietary law also prohibits the eating of meat and milk at the same meal. For this purpose, "meat" means the flesh of mammals and birds, and "milk" includes dairy products such as cheese and butter. Thus a kosher delicatessen selling corned beef sandwiches would not have any cheese, and a kosher bakery selling bagels and cream cheese would not have any meat. Many foods are classified as pareve (sometimes spelled "parve") - neither meat nor milk, and therefore acceptable at any meal. Pareve foods include fish, eggs, honey, and any edible plant.[13][14] Kosher commercial establishments must be closed from Friday evening to Saturday evening, during the Jewish sabbath.

American Jewish cuisine may or may not be kosher. For example, some delicatessens follow Jewish dietary law in the preparation and serving of food, while others do not. Followers of Orthodox Judaism, the most traditional form of Judaism, generally eat only kosher food. Some other more-observant Jews also eat kosher food most or all of the time. However, the majority of American Jews are less observant of traditional rules, and eat non-kosher food. According to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center, 22 percent of American Jews keep kosher in their homes.[15]

Kosher-style food

Kosher-style food is food that is made in the style of kosher food but that does not necessarily conform to Jewish dietary laws. For example, a kosher-style hot dog is an all-beef hot dog that is mildly spiced with garlic and other flavorings, and a kosher-style pickle is a sour pickle aged in brine with garlic and dill. The term "kosher-style" may also refer to American Jewish cuisine in general.[16]

Passover

During the annual eight-day Passover holiday, Jews who are more traditionally observant do not eat chametz (leavened bread). During Passover some American Jews eat matzo and other foods that conform to this restriction.[17][18]

American Jews, like Jews elsewhere in the world, often participate in a Passover seder at the beginning of Passover. This is a ritual meal that includes the telling of the story of Passover - the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. At a seder, the Passover Seder plate is a plate with special food items that are symbolic of different aspects of Passover.[19]

Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi cuisine

Around 90% of American Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors came from Eastern or Central Europe, where many of them spoke Yiddish as their first language. The foods commonly associated with American Jewish cuisine therefore have their origins in those regions.

The United States also has a sizeable population of Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors lived in Spain or Portugal, and later in other Mediterranean areas, and Mizrahi Jews, whose ancestors lived in the Middle East or North Africa.[6][20] Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews have their own distinct cuisines, which, like Ashkenazi cuisine, were heavily influenced by their places of origin.[21][22] Although always outnumbered by their Ashkenazi counterparts, there are significant Sephardic and Mizrahi communities across America. These include the Persian Jews of Los Angeles,[23][24] the Moroccan Jews of Manhattan,[25][26] the Turkish Jews of Seattle,[27] and the Syrian Jews of Brooklyn.[28] Additionally, Mizrahi and Sephardic cuisine predominates in the modern state of Israel.

Therefore, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes such as falafel, hummus, couscous, and shakshouka are also part of American Jewish cuisine.[29][30]

Litvaks and Galitzianers

The two largest groups of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jews were Litvaks, who lived farther to the north and east, in the area of Lithuania, and Galitzianers, who lived farther to the south and west, in the area of Galicia. Each group spoke their own dialect of Yiddish. According to some writers, it is sometimes possible to guess the ancestry of an American Jew by knowing their preferred style of gefilte fish.[31] Litvaks ate gefilte fish that was flavored with salt and pepper, while Galitzianers preferred theirs to be sweeter.[32] The border between the areas where Litvaks and Galitzianers lived has therefore been referred to as "the gefilte fish line".[32][31]

Popular dishes and foods

A bagel, lox, and cream cheese sandwich, before assembly
Gefilte fish is made with fish that has been minced and then poached.

Popular dishes in American Jewish cuisine include:

Commercial establishments

Notable American Jewish restaurants, delicatessens, grocery stores, and food and wine companies include:

Dining at Chinese restaurants on Christmas

The American Jewish custom of eating at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve is a common stereotype portrayed in film and television, but it has a factual basis. The tradition may have arisen from the lack of other open restaurants on Christmas, as well as the close proximity to each other of Jewish and Chinese immigrants in New York City.[57][58][59][60]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Paster, E. (2017). The Joys of Jewish Preserving: Modern Recipes with Traditional Roots, for Jams, Pickles, Fruit Butters, and More--for Holidays and Every Day. Harvard Common Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-55832-903-4. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ Wallach, J.J. (2013). How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture. American ways series. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 82-88. ISBN 978-1-4422-0874-2. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ a b Smith, A.F. (2004). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America: A-J. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford University Press. p. 739. ISBN 978-0-19-517551-6. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Koenig, Leah. "American Jewish Cuisine". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Nathan, Joan (March 1, 2009). "Food in the United States". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ a b Zollman, Joellyn. "Jewish Immigration to America: Three Waves". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ Sokan, Kenny (March 31, 2016). "Pastrami on Rye: A Full-Length History of the Jewish Deli". PRI. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ Merwin, Ted (October 4, 2015). "Tasty Bits from the History of the Jewish Deli". New York Post. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ Magarik, Raphael (January 25, 2016). "How Pastrami Helped to Create American Jewish Culture". Forward. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ Nathan, Joan (October 6, 2009). "At Jewish Delis, Times Are as Lean as Good Corned Beef". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ Bruner, Raisa (April 20, 2016). "The 26 Best Jewish Delis in America, According to Foursquare". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Chu, Louisa (November 6, 2017). "What Happened to the Big Jewish Delis in Chicago?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "Kosher Food: What Makes Food Kosher or Not". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws". Judaism 101. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ Shimoni, Giora (July 10, 2017). "Do All Jews Keep Kosher?". The Spruce. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ Levin, Sala (July 26, 2013). "From Pickles to Salmon, the Joys of Kosher-Style". Moment Magazine. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "What It Means to Keep Kosher for Passover". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ Lewis, Danny (April 21, 2016). "For the First Time in 800 Years, Rice and Beans Are Kosher for Passover". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ Pelaia, Ariela (March 1, 2016). "What Are the Symbols of the Seder Plate?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ "What do Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi mean?". Coffee Shop Rabbi. May 3, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ Avey, Tori. "Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic Cuisine". Tori Avey. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ Guttman, Vered (September 11, 2012). "Ladino in the Air, Sephardi Foods on the Table". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ Nahai, Gina (November 4, 2014). "How Iranian Jews Shaped Modern Los Angeles". Forward. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ https://www.wmagazine.com/story/persian-beverly-hills-2
  25. ^ Lipman, Steve (June 25, 2014). "Sephardic Wave Rolling into Manhattan". The New York Jewish Week. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ http://www.sepharad.org/
  27. ^ "An Over 100-Year-Old History of Turkish Sephardic Jews in Seattle". Turk of America. October 6, 2009. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ Chafets, Zev (October 14, 2007). "The Sy Empire". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ Sietsema, Robert (October 25, 2016). "Where to Find Sephardic Jewish Food in NYC and Its Suburbs". Eater. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ Miller, Aly (August 22, 2016). "Where to Find the Best Shakshuka in NYC". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ a b c "This Is No Fish Tale: Gefilte Tastes Tell Story of Ancestry". The Jewish News of Northern California. September 10, 1999. Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ a b c Prichep, Deena (September 24, 2014). "The Gefilte Fish Line: A Sweet and Salty History of Jewish Identity". NPR. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ Nathan, Joan (November 12, 2008). "A Short History of the Bagel". Slate. Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ Weinzweig, Ari (March 26, 2009). "The Secret History of Bagels". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ Falkowitz, Max (July 2014). "Bagelnomics: The Curious Pricing of New York's Bagel With Cream Cheese". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2017.
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  37. ^ Avey, Tori. "Ratner's Cheese Blintzes: Meyer Lansky's Favorite Dish". Tori Avey. Retrieved 2017.
  38. ^ Yeh, Molly (December 20, 2012). "Brisket: The Holy Grail of Jewish Food". Forward. Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ Roden, Claudia. "What Is Challah?". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ a b c d e Kraig, B.; Carroll, P. (2012). Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America. AltaMira studies in food and gastronomy. AltaMira Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7591-2073-0. Retrieved 2017.
  41. ^ a b "Ask the Expert: Matzah Balls vs. Kreplach". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ "What Am I, Chopped Liver?". Ohr Somayach. Retrieved 2017.
  43. ^ a b Rosengarten, David (March 13, 2014). "It's Corned Beef Time, But Don't Forget the Pastrami!". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ Spiegel, Alison (April 1, 2015). "What Exactly Is Gefilte Fish, and Is It Good or Gross?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ Miller, Aly (October 14, 2016). "What Is a Kishke?". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ Wasserman, Tina (Winter 2009). "The Ultimate Jewish Finger Food". Reform Judaism Magazine. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010. Retrieved 2017.
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  52. ^ "The 12 rules for not getting in trouble at Katz's Deli". Star Tribune. November 17, 2015. Retrieved 2017.
  53. ^ Appelbaum, Yoni (December 11, 2015). "Everything You Know About Latkes Is Wrong". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017.
  54. ^ Triantafillou, Niko (November 2013). "Where to Get Rugelach in New York City". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2017.
  55. ^ Achitoff-Gray, Niki (September 2014). "Lox, Whitefish, and Beyond: An Introduction to Appetizing". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2017.
  56. ^ Kapadia, Jess (April 29, 2013). "Whitefish Salad, The Bagel's Secret Lover". Food Republic. Retrieved 2017.
  57. ^ Chandler, Adam (December 23, 2014). "Why American Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017.
  58. ^ Yam, Kimberly (December 22, 2016). "The Reason Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas Is Rooted in Solidarity". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  59. ^ Witchel, Alex (December 17, 2003). "For Some, It's a Very Moo Shu Christmas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  60. ^ Tracy, Marc (December 25, 2012). "Why Eating Chinese Food on Christmas Is a Sacred Tradition for American Jews". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2017.

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