Joan Nathan has written numerous cookbooks about Jewish cooking. This time she has turned her head to France in Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. This new book explores the state of Jewish cuisine in France, revealing it as rich and varied.
Where Jewish culinary history is concerned, France is a kind of crossroads, with influences from all directions. We think of fois gras as being so typically French and yet it is thought to have been brought to Europe by Jews who learned the process of gavage while in Egyptian captivity. Commercial yogurt was first sold in Paris by Isaac Carasso, a Jew from Thessalonika who arrived in France via Spain. His family moved to the U.S. during World War II and named its company Danone, which produces the Dannon brand. Chocolate’s arrival in France dates to the 16th century when Jews escaping the Inquisition arrived with cocoa beans and other spices.
In this book are recipes for all manner of dishes, from cholent to kugel, plus a sampling of French Jewish menus — Alsatian, Provencal, Tunisian, for example. But just as enticing are the notes and sidebars that accompany these recipes. Nathan’s interviews have preserved the stories of many elderly, such as one woman who hid Resistance fighters during World War II. This gives the book historical as well as culinary significance.
Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous