Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mamma Mia, Oy Vey!

cover of The Italian-Kosher Kitchen
 The Italian-Kosher Cookbook
By Ruth and Bob Grossman
Galahad Books, 1973

When I first saw this book, I thought it was a gag book, but a quick look showed that while it is humorous, it's actually quite useful for those wanting Italian food that conforms to Kosher rules. A follow-up to the Grossman's Chinese-Kosher Cookbook, it follows the same pattern of adapting classic dishes of one cuisine to meet dietary laws while maintaining respect for the initial cuisine

Chock full of puns and Yiddishims, the book is funny--but the humor can pall after a bit. Every single title has a pun or joke or two. It gently lampoons a certain kind of Jewishness--that of the New Yorker immigrant and its second-generation. Full of bubelehs, schlmiels, and nudniks this is an enjoyable light read.

The recipes are supposedly the creation of "Grandma Slipakoff", who peppers her recipes with constructions like:

"…an artist you should be in the kitchen."

"This will make plenty for 4-5 people and maybe tonight you'll skip yourself the dessert."

By turns nostalgic, silly, and practical, the recipes look like they work, though they might be a little under-seasoned--but not atypically so for its publication date. For example, the Lasagne Spinaci Mazeldik is a straight-forward cheese and spinach lasagne, but is considered "spicy" despite having only 2 cloves of garlic, and a few tablespoons of basil, parsley and oregano. Oddly, it also calls for a cup of breadcrumbs to thicken the tomato sauce.  That's going to be one solid lasagne.

Other recipe titles that caught my eye:

Stuffed Eggplant Indigestione

Qvelling Cod Filets

Gefilte Fish Fra Diavolo

Um Gepahtch Kid Matzoh Brei Parmigiana

Since Italian cuisine values vegetables and grains, as well as having a rich Jewish history, creating Kosher dishes isn't too difficult. I'd like to see how the Grossmans handled shrimp and pork dishes in their preceding work or the omnipresence of butter in the book that followed on Kosher French cuisine. I'll keep an eye out for both at the next book sale.

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