In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary (April 18, 2018), I was interviewed by Steven Shalowitz to discuss popular Israeli food for JNF’s Podcast (the Jewish National Fund), IsraelCast. Tune in as we discuss the origins of shakshuka, borekas, felafel, hummus, halvah, the biblical herb za’tar, and shnitzel. (I will even talk about how pastrami became a Jewish-American deli favorite!)
Click here for JNF’s Podcast, IsraelCast
(Scroll down to “Episodes” and you will find it listed first as
episode 25, Culinary Expert Jennifer Abadi.)
In the second half of my talk I will also briefly discuss my new cookbook
Too Good To Passover.
In a recent interview by Steven Shalowitz for his podcast The One Way Ticket Show, I was asked the following question: “If I gave you a one-way ticket, past, present, future, real, imaginary or state of mind, where would you go?” (Remember — there’s no coming back!)
Putting aside the fact that by going back in time I would be giving up some of the great discoveries in medicine, technology, and advancements in human rights, I chose to go back to the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid 1500s. (I had briefly considered the golden age of Jewish culture in Spain in the 8th and 9th centuries, but decided I didn’t want to be stuck there once the Inquisitions began.)
One Way Ticket Show
Here is a short video of a recent service held at the surviving 900-year-old synagogue in Cochin, India. Please take the time to view it as it gives you a rare glimpse of the synagogue inside, and introduces you to one of the few Indian Jews still living there, whose job it is to take care of it.
Cochin, India synagogue video
In reading Chaim Raphael’s book, A FEAST OF HISTORY: The drama of Passover through the ages, I came across the following description of the Seder ceremony, which I think sums up its role as a common (yet important) Jewish experience:
“The Seder has a unique quality, however, in that it is a ceremony which brings together — and always has throughout history — all kinds of people of Jewish origin, no matter what weight they normally attach to this in terms of belief, practice, political philosophy, social interests or family loyalties. Among our profusion of skeptical Jews … there are not many who will refuse to attend the Seder ‘on principle’ — as they might other Jewish observances. On the surface, nothing is committed by attendance.”
— Chaim Raphael
(Excerpted from: A FEAST OF HISTORY: The drama of Passover through the ages (with a new translation of the Haggadah for use at the Seder). Steimatzky’s Agency, Ltd. together with Weidenfeld Nicolson, London, 1972, pages 17-18.)
Have a good Seder everyone!
Every year rabbis in certain regions of the country and the world spend countless hours watching and examining designated wheat fields for the sole purpose of producing Pesach flour to make Shmura (“watched” or “guarded”) Matzah for Seder ceremonial use. While the intent for checking these fields is to insure that no moisture has contaminated the wheat (which could lead to fermentation and make it chametz or unkosher for Pesach), there may be the indirect benefit of creating a better quality, better tasting, and even healthier wheat flour. Could farmers learn from these rabbis about the best ways to take care of their fields? Check out this very interesting article yesterday and you will learn some interesting things as well.
While many Ashkenazim (Germanic or Eastern European Jews) have long considered Sephardim (Spanish/Mediterranean Jews) or Mizrahim (Middle Eastern Jews) lucky for being able to consume rice on Passover, this staple grain may soon be accepted for them as well. As the American diet continues to change (where individuals can choose to be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian) there has also been an ongoing debate in the Ashkenazi community about whether to start accepting kitniyot into the weekly Passover diet. Kitniyot (from the Hebrew word for “little things”) is a general category for such foods as legumes, pulses, corn, soybeans, peas, poppy seeds, and even rice, that like chametz (cereal grains such as wheat, or processed foods containing cereal grains such as cake or pasta) have been forbidden by Ashkenazi rabbis for centuries. (While many in the Sephardic world do consume kitniyot, it really varies region to region, such as Moroccans who generally do not consume rice, but may have chickpeas and fresh green beans). Because of today’s stricter labeling and processing requirements, it’s difficult to defend the tradition based on the possibility that a food product could have been contaminated, and the rule against kitniyot is not written in the Torah.
While some are starting to change by embracing rice and beans during Passover, many still prefer sticking to what they were brought up with. (It’s hard to change tradition!)
Here are some interesting and recent articles about the topic,
and the changes that some rabbis in the conservative movements are making.
And another regarding the legality of quinoa.
My Syrian dried apricot charoset (listed as #5) has been featured with several other interesting charosets on KosherLikeMe in a post entitled,”8 Charoset Recipes Sure to Spark Chatter at your Passover Seders.” Check out this delicious article, and let me know what type of charoset you plan to make this coming holiday!