Early Jewish Cookbooks

Essays on Hungarian Jewish Gastronomical History
ISBN: 
978-963-386-429-6
cloth
$75.00 / €63.00 / £54.00
Preface by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Publication date: 
2022
June, 272 pages, 40 b&w photos

The seven essays in this volume focus on such previously unexplored subjects as the world’s first cookbook printed in Hebrew letters, published in 1854, and a wonderful 19th-century Jewish cookbook, which in addition to its Hungarian edition was also published in Dutch in Rotterdam. The author entertainingly reconstructs the history of bólesz, a legendary yeast pastry that was the specialty of a famous, but long defunct Jewish coffeehouse in Pest, and includes the modernized recipe of this distant relative of cinnamon rolls. Koerner also tells the history of the first Jewish bookstore in Hungary (founded as early as in 1765!) and examines the influence of Jewish cuisine on non-Jewish food.

In this volume András Koerner explores key issues of Hungarian Jewish culinary culture in greater detail and more scholarly manner than what space restrictions permitted in his previous work Jewish Cuisine in Hungary, also published by CEU Press, which received the prestigious National Jewish Book Award in 2019. The current essays confirm the extent to which Hungarian Jewry was part of the Jewish life and culture of the Central European region before their almost total language shift by the turn of the 20th century.

“Koerner brings great intellectual imagination to the study of culinary culture. He not only teases out the web of relations that connects these nineteenth-century cookbooks to one another, recipe by recipe, but also examines the circumstances of their authorship, publication, marketing and distribution, the intended and actual readers, and the language in which they were written. He has produced a study of extraordinary depth and a landmark account of Jewish cookbooks anywhere at any time.” —Excerpt from the Preface by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

PREFACE by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

INTRODUCTION 

The Significance of Old Cookbooks 
Scholarly Research of Old Cookbooks in Hungary 
The Pioneers of Research of Alimentary Culture 
University Programs of Food Studies and Culinary History 
Old Cookbooks as Historical Documents 
Jewish Cookbooks as Historical Documents 

1. THE WORLD’S FIRST COOKBOOK PRINTED IN HEBREW LETTERS 

Recipes from the first Hebrew-lettered cookbook 
2. THE FIRST JEWISH COOKBOOK IN HUNGARY 
Recipes from the first Jewish cookbook in Hungary 
3. THE EARLIEST HUNGARIAN JEWISH RECIPE COLLECTION 
Recipes from the earliest Hungarian Jewish recipe collection 
4. A WORLD-FAMOUS 19TH-CENTURY HUNGARIAN JEWISH COOKBOOK 
Recipes from Therese Lederer’s 1876 cookbook 
5. BÓLESZ, A FORGOTTEN JEWISH PASTRY OF 19TH-CENTURY PEST 
The reconstructed recipe of bólesz 
6. THE LAST WIZO COOKBOOK BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST 
Recipes from the 1938 Transylvanian Jewish cookbook 
7. THE INFLUENCE OF HUNGARIAN JEWISH CUISINE ON THE NON-JEWISH 
Jewish recipes from 19th-century Hungarian cookbooks 

Notes 
Selected Bibliography 
List of Quoted Recipes 
Glossary 
Index of Personal Names 
Sources of Illustrations 
Acknowledgements

"Bólesz, Koerner explains, dates back to Sephardic Jews who fled to Holland following the Spanish Inquisition. 'It represents one of the very few instances of Sephardic influence in the overwhelmingly Ashkenazi character of Hungarian Jewish cuisine,' Koerner said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Koerner returned from New York City, where he currently lives, to his hometown of Budapest two or three times a year to visit his brother and sister and to do research for his books. The English translation Early Jewish Cookbooks: Essays on the History of Hungarian Jewish Gastronomy hits shelves this summer."