Ashkenazi Judaism is inseparably linked to Eastern Europe. Unique Jewish ways of life evolved here, only to be virtually annihilated by the Shoah. And yet, specific Ashkenazi eating habits, with their mix of religious rules and regional influences, survive in many places around the world today, in traditions, habits, and customs.
Around the time that Joseph Roth (1894–1939) Joseph Roth (1894–1939) Joseph Roth (1894–1939) was an Austrian journalist and writer with Jewish–Galician roots. He wrote mainly for newspapers, but also several novels and novellas, and his best-known works include <em>Job</em>, <em>The Radetzky March</em>, <em>The Wandering Jews</em>, and <em>The Legend of the Holy Drinker</em>. Roth’s books, which repeatedly address the social situation of Jews under the Habsburg Monarchy and in the Weimar Republic, were burnt by the Nazis, forcing him into exile in France. created a literary monument to the “Eastern Jews” “Eastern Jews” “Ostjuden” is a somewhat derogatory and highly generalized term for East European and other Jews who fled, particularly during the first quarter of the 20th century, from the increasingly antisemitic politics and violent pogroms in Eastern Europe to Berlin and other Western European cities. These Ashkenazi, usually Orthodox and often Yiddish-speaking Jews, frequently did not associate with their Liberal or baptized fellow believers who had already integrated into Western European society. Today the expression “East European Jew/Judaism” is avoided in favour of the more neutral “Ashkenazi Jew/Judaism.” with his essay, “The Wandering Jews”1 (1927), their world was in a state of upheaval. The Ashkenazim Ashkenazim Ashkenazi describes one of the main groups within (European) Judaism, the others being Sephardic and Bukharan. The term Ashkenazi is used to refer to Jews who originally lived in Central and Eastern Europe and their descendants. Today Ashkenazim live all over Europe; large Ashkenazi communities also exist in the US, Canada, and Israel. portrayed by Roth, that is, Jews from Eastern Europe, still make up the largest group within Judaism, but a large part of the Jewish world they lived in, and the Yiddish language Yiddish language This language, which is mainly spoken by Ashkenazi Jews, probably originated from Middle High German. Despite this common root, words and inflections from the surrounding environment were gradually integrated into the language, and a broad distinction can therefore be drawn between East and West Yiddish. East Yiddish contains Hebrew as well as Slavic and German words and phrases. While West Yiddish began to die out in the 18th century, East Yiddish remained the everyday language for the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe until the Jewish centres of continental Europe were largely destroyed through the Shoah. Today Yiddish is spoken by the descendants of East European Ashkenazi, mostly Orthodox Jews. The number of native speakers is estimated to be around a million at most, with centres to be found in New York City, Amsterdam, and Jerusalem. Yiddish is written from right to left like Hebrew using the Hebrew alphabet. , was destroyed in the 20th century.
During the Middle Ages their settlements were still located in the regions that today form part of France and Germany, but pogroms and evictions gradually forced them further and further East, where their ways of life became intertwined with local conditions. Eastern Europe became the cradle of Ashkenazi Jewish culture. Over time, autochthonous settlements known as shtetlach shtetlach “Shtetl” is a Yiddish term for settlements in Eastern Europe with predominantly Jewish populations. The shtetl characterized Jewish environments in the East until the Shoah. Usually they were villages or small towns, sometimes districts, with populations of between 1,000 and 20,000 Jews. Shtetlach were most prevalent in Eastern Poland – especially Galicia – but also on the territory of today’s Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. evolved, with predominantly Jewish populations. Cultural patterns started to unfold, stimulated by Jewish traditions and exchanges with the local environment. The food culture that has grown out of local agricultural conditions and the religious (dietary) laws of Judaism, the Kashrut Kashrut Hebrew for “fitness,” this term refers to a collection of religious laws that include the Jewish dietary laws. These dietary laws set out which foods are kosher (permitted), treif (not permitted), or pareve (neutral). One of the central principles is the separation of milk and meat. Foods that are pareve – e.g. fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts, cereals, and pulses – may be combined with meat or dairy foods. Kashrut includes requirements concerning the slaughter of animals and the preparation, manufacture, and storage of foods, as well as rules and prohibitions for religious holidays. , is one of the essential components of the Ashkenazi way of life. Ashkenazi food culture food culture Humans have never accepted everything that was biologically edible as food. As cultural beings, confronted with the processes of socialization and cultural acquisition, what we may and may not eat is usually clear to us from a young age. Religious rules play a significant role in these learning processes, particularly Jewish ones, since they incorporate so much about food and drink. We are deliberately not referring to the Jewish food and drink culture here since they are as varied as Jewish ways of life in general. Food culture includes not only the beverages and meals themselves and their material components, but also their production, purchase, and preparation together with the ritual, emotional, symbolic, and social functions of food. Food culture is closely connected to place, time, age, gender, religion, and social background. is a convenient umbrella term rather than a single set of habits and customs, but nonetheless, it is an emotionally charged factor of Jewish life, that shapes people’s identities. It consists of a canon of dishes that reflect religious affiliation and social status just as much as harvest times and seasons, and which has local roots. Jewish food culture can thus best be understood as a diverse set of religious and regional eating styles – in other words, as a range of food cultures. Their connection to numerous areas of everyday life allows us – then as now2   – a glimpse into religious and secular Jewish life and shows to what extent Jewish culture formed and continues to affect the region.
Eastern Europe and its Jewish traditions
Eastern Europe has always been characterized by shifting borders. The empires that were dominant here for long periods – whether that of the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, the Tsars or later, state socialism – and their respective policies determined the conditions of the region and its people, bringing them destructive wars as well as modernization. Jews have always been a minority on the East European ethnoreligious map, continually exposed – in addition to the universal hardships of war and hunger – to anti-Jewish attitudes anti-Jewish attitudes Anti-Judaism refers to Christian hostility toward Jews, which operates primarily with the accusation that Jews are “murderers of Christ,” which is not supported by historical facts. During the Middle Ages fixed prejudices emerged, such as the allegation of “ritual murder,” suggesting Jews killed children and used their blood to carry out religious rites. Then there was the accusation of “host desecration,” alleging that Jews desecrated the sacred bread used in Mass, which led to Jews in some cities and regions being forbidden from leaving the ghettos, streets, and homes that had been allocated to them on Christian holidays. Just like antisemitism, anti-Judaism encouraged violent excesses against Jews in Europe, during the crusades between the 11th and 12th centuries, the Black Death in 1348/9, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) and during the Hep-Hep riots in today’s Germany in summer and autumn 1819, which began in Würzburg, Bavaria. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, traditional anti-Judaism became mixed with new, pseudo-scientific “racial theories” based on the idea of superior and inferior “races.” Today all forms of generalized hatred of or hostility towards Jews are described as antisemitism. The German word Antisemitismus (antisemitism) was coined in 1879 by the antisemitic journalist Wilhelm Marr and has, since the Shoah, become the generic term for all attitudes and behaviours that ascribe negative characteristics to individuals or groups on the grounds of their assumed or actual membership of the group “Jews.” It is used to encourage, prepare, and/or justify the exclusion, degradation, discrimination, repression, persecution, expulsion and murder of Jewish minorities (genocide). Sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno wrote in his Minima Moralia (1951): “Antisemitism is the rumours about Jews.” and pogroms pogroms This Russian expression means something like “destruction” or “devastation” and describes violent attacks against people who either belong to or who the perpetrators categorize as belonging to a real or alleged social group. As a rule pogroms target ethnic, political, or religious minorities. Since the bloody assaults on Jewish communities in the Russian Empire in the 1880s, the expression “pogrom” has been used for describing violent attacks on Jews. . Few regions are as strongly characterized by (East) Jewish culture as Bukovina Bukovina Bukovina is a historical region situated between Central, Southeast, and Eastern Europe. Its main city is Chernivtsi (formerly Czernowitz). The northern part is now part of Ukraine, and the southern part belongs to Romania. Just like Bessarabia to the East, Bukovina belonged to the historical principality of Moldavia for hundreds of years, although from 1775 to 1918 the region with its multi-ethnic, multireligious, and multilingual population belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy. To the northwest of Bukovina is East Galicia; to the southwest, Transylvania. The poet Rose Ausländer dedicated numerous poems to this, her native region, as did Paul Celan. or Galicia Galicia Galicia is a historical region located in what today is southern Poland and western Ukraine. In 1772, with the first partition of Poland, regions that had previously belonged to Poland–Lithuania were ceded to the Habsburgs and affiliated to the Austrian Empire as the “Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.” The population of Galicia, like that of Bukovina, was multi-ethnic, multilingual, and multireligious. Joseph Roth, who himself came from Brody in East Galicia, addressed the subject of life in Galicia in many of his works including Job, The Radetzky March, and The Wandering Jews. – two strips of land in Ukraine and in the East of Poland, which are little known now but which were home for many Jews and in the 19th and 20th centuries and found their way into poetry and literature. Paul Celan (1920–1970) Paul Celan (1920–1970) Paul Celan (1920–1970), born Paul Antschel, is one of the most important German-language poets of the 20th century. He was born in Czernowitz, then capital of Bukovina, into a German-speaking Jewish family. In his work he reflects on liminal human experiences and the Shoah. One of his most well-known poems is Todesfuge (Death Fugue). Both of his parents were murdered during the Shoah, and after 1948 he lived in exile in France. , for example, wrote nostalgically of his Bukovina as one of the “provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy that had passed into oblivion.”3
Until the 20th century, East Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and West Ukraine represented the heartland of East European Jewish culture. Above all the shtetlach were fixed points in the Jewish landscape;4 here Jews lived in compact rural or provincial settlements and created the infrastructure that they required, for example, abattoirs that conformed to Kashrut, synagogues, prayer houses, religious school and mikvehs mikvehs By immersion in the mikveh or ritual bath, the bather attains ritual purity. In observant Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, a married woman must visit the mikveh after menstruation or childbirth. Normally a woman makes her first visit to the mikveh on the evening before her wedding. Orthodox observant Jews still follow these rules today. Complete immersion in the mikveh is required for a conversion to Judaism, whether Orthodox, Conservative or Liberal, for both men and women. Crockery is washed in a separate basin at the mikveh before being used in kosher households. . Orthodox life flourished, although life in the shtetl was not as externally regulated as in the closed-off inner-city ghettoes ghettoes This expression comes from Italian and is derived from Ghetto Nuovo, a district of Venice in which Jews were forced to live after the 16th century. The name comes from the Italian expression gietto, the district of pewterers. Today “ghetto” is used to describe a demarcated living area within a city – for example, a particular street – in which Jews were forced to live, often under very cramped conditions. An example of an early ghetto in the German-speaking world is the Judengasse in Frankfurt am Main, established in 1462. During the Second World War (1939–1945) the Nazis established ghettos for deported Jews in occupied Poland and the annexed Czech lands. These detention centres were transit stations where people were held before being transported to work and/or extermination camps. . However, Jewish life was by no means homogeneous, and even the description “Orthodox Jewish” together with the numerous additional interpretations of the Jewish faith that it implied, could include local and socially diverse forms and lifestyles – just as it can today.
Similar, specifically urban Jewish environments prospered in places such as Kazimierz in Kraków, Moldavanka in Odessa, and around Krochmalna Street in Warsaw. Here Jews created niches where their religion and the associated lifestyle could be enjoyed. The ways in which Jewish life, including Jewish food culture, were expressed were thus by no means homogeneous, but varied greatly depending on their regional setting.
The observance of Shabbat Shabbat or Sabbath, in Yiddish Shabbes, derived from the Hebrew word sheva meaning “seven.” Weekly Jewish holiday or rest day on the seventh day of the week, which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. Work is prohibited on Shabbat, and special meals are shared with family and/or friends, together with different customs and rituals such as the kiddush, the blessing recited over wine, and the Shabbat bread, challah. Practising Jews visit synagogues or temples. The strictness with which the Shabbat rules are interpreted and upheld varies between ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative, Liberal and secular Jews. , the rest from work at the beginning of the weekend, has always characterized the rhythm of Jewish life. Challah Challah plural challot, in Yiddish challes. A plaited yeast bread which is eaten on Shabbat and other religious holidays other than Passover. Before it is eaten, the appropriate blessing (kiddush) is said, and salt is scattered over the bread. The challah has different symbolic meanings according to its shape. For example, at Rosh Hashanah it is baked in the shape of a ring, so that the new year will turn out “round,” in the sense of good and successful. The expression “challah” also refers to the part of the challah dough that, in practicing households, is separated as an offering and subsequently burnt. and salt are almost always part of it;5  wine is hard to separate from Shabbat. Many Ashkenazi families ate and still eat golden joich – a chicken broth with noodles or dumplings – on this occasion, followed by a dish made using the chicken meat. A whole series of other dishes are prepared specifically for days such as the Feast of Weeks: gefilte fish – since “without fish there can be no Shabbat”6  – with its elaborate preparation method, must be ready before the Shabbat candles are lit. Cholent Cholent There are various theories for the etymology of “cholent,” but it could come from the French words “chaud” (meaning “hot”) and “lent” (meaning “slow”). A stew that is often served on Shabbat, made from meat, potatoes, barley, beans, and other vegetables (recipes vary). Usually cooked slowly in the oven overnight and then kept warm, since all work (including cooking) is forbidden on Shabbat. with beans and pearl barley, eulogized by Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) as a “kosher ambrosia”7  is somewhat simpler. This juicy, satisfying casserole is slowly simmered overnight, and goose, duck, or beef is added according to the financial circumstances of the cook (in a traditional family, the wife or mother). In the shtetlach, prior to the Second World War, not every family had their own oven, instead the local bakers oven was used. Local circumstances and religious duty went hand in hand here. It is thus hardly surprising that Jewish cuisine may, despite all its rules, be adapted to the local environment. Not only the well-to-do Jewish families in the Habsburg Empire were able to adjust Austro-Hungarian cuisine, with its boiled beef and pastries, to their kosher kosher From the Hebrew word kasher – “lawful” and “pure” – this expression refers to the animals and foods that are permitted for human consumption in the Torah, and the way they should be prepared. The expression is not limited to food and drink, however, and can refer to religiously appropriate attitudes and behaviours of Jews. The opposite of kosher is treif. Observing the dietary rules is known as keeping kosher. habits. For example, in meat dishes, goose fat could be used instead of butter, which would have been prohibited since it is a milk product. It should be borne in mind that such attempts to make their own religion and culture inconspicuous were often the result of pressure to assimilate, and that adaptation to local circumstances was both due to voluntary adoption of local customs and adaptation borne out of necessity.
While the festive dishes of the less wealthy, such as chopped liver chopped liver Poultry liver, for example, chicken or goose liver, is browned with onions, seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs such as parsley, chopped finely, and then spread on bread. The ingredients used vary between regions, and recipes are often handed down within families.  and other cheaper cuts of meat, gradually disappeared from the menu of a community for whom animal husbandry played a less and less important role, matzo ball soup matzo ball soup Matzah, mazza, or matzo, from the hebrew word matzah, plural matzahs or mazzot, refers to the unleavened bread that is eaten at Passover in memory of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. In their hurried flight the Israelites had no time to let their bread rise, so for practising Jews the consumption of leavened bread as well as noodles and pulses is forbidden during Passover. Matzahs are baked thin and flat. Preparation time must not exceed 18 minutes, since after this time the flour, water, and oxygen may begin to ferment. Matzah meal is produced from finely ground matzah and used during Passover instead of conventional flour for the preparation of matzah balls and other dishes. Matzah balls or matzah dumplings (in Yiddish, knaidlech, singular knaidl) are added to broth and are especially popular with Ashkenazi Jews. Matzah balls are made from matzah meal and are served especially at Passover but also at other holidays and on Shabbat. In the US, matzah balls and matzah ball soup (a clear broth with meat and/or vegetables and matzah dumplings) are very well known and are often sold in delis. stood the test of time. Desserts such as crescent-shaped rugelach rugelach These sweet, filled, crescent-shaped pastries are a part of traditional Ashkenazi cuisine. Usually, the filing is made from walnuts, plum puree, chocolate, cinnamon and sugar, dried fruit, or poppy seeds. In accordance with the Jewish dietary rules, rugelach exists in two variants: either parve (neutral) or milk-based, with butter, milk, and sour cream in the dough or the filling. Rugelach are popular on the Jewish holidays of Hannukah and Shavuot; practising Jews will typically eat the neutral variant after meat and milk dishes and the milk-based variant only after milk dishes. pastries and flódni flódni Also known as layer cake, this is usually served in rectangular slices, is made of multiple layers of shortcrust pastry filled with apples, walnuts, poppy seed, and plum jam. The combination and seasoning of the fillings may vary slightly depending on the region of origin and time of year when it is made. layer cake remained equally popular and became established across regional and religious boundaries.
Ashkenazi cuisine is distinctive even on ordinary days and displays some similarities with the cuisine of the area where it evolved. Cabbage and potatoes are often used, for example for fried latkes latkes Small cakes made from raw, grated potatoes fried in hot fat, like potato fritters or potato pancakes. Served especially at Hannukah as a reminder of the miracle of the oil that burnt in the Temple of Jerusalem for eight days instead of one. Latkes are often served either as a savoury dish (e.g. with cream cheese and smoked salmon) or as a dessert (with apple sauce). or as a filling for dumplings known as kreplach. Foods that are particularly long-lasting such as pastrami pastrami Thinly sliced beef that has been cured, seasoned, and smoked. Pastrami probably reached the US via Ashkenazi–Romanian–Jewish cuisine with the mass migrations at the end of the 19th century. Pastrami sandwiches made with rye bread, pickled cucumbers, and mustard are popular in the US and are enjoying increasing popularity in Europe. (a smoked meat), pickled herrings and pickled vegetables played and continue to play a central role. In accordance with dietary laws, the cuisine of practising Ashkenazi Jews avoids pork and any dishes where meat and milk are combined,8  leading to a marked difference between regional kosher and non-kosher cuisine.
We should not forget that everyday cuisine would often have been shaped by shortages, well into modern times, and that “poor people’s food” consisting of meatless gruel and boiled grains – such as the ever-popular kasha, a buckwheat porridge – would have been the main source of nutrition, particularly outside the cultivation and harvest seasons. It is also worth bearing in mind that “national cuisines” can generally be traced back to simple dishes just like these and that their supposedly long history is often not all that unified.9  It is not possible to speak in terms of a single East European or Ashkenazi cuisine. The generalization is customary, given the many common elements and similarities, but there is no universal blueprint for (East European) Jewish food culture.
Annihilation, Migration – and New Beginnings
Any consideration of Jewish food cultures is impeded by the scarcity of source material. The whole way of life, including recipes, customs, and traditions, was annihilated in large part by the displacement and murder of Jews in the “Bloodlands”10  between Russia and Germany during the Shoah. The problem was compounded in the second half of the 20th century, when, because of the anti-religious stance of the Soviet Union, Jewish traditions ceased to be maintained and passed down. Jewish religion and culture in this region now tend to exist only in the shadows or to serve as an admonitory reminder. It was not possible for a Jewish community capable of political opposition to develop in the socialist-collectivist societies of the Soviet Union, not least because it would not have been viable to keep kosher.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, numerous Jews who had been living there were given the opportunity to emigrate to the Federal Republic of Germany as “quota refugees.” “quota refugees.” People who are allowed to emigrate to Germany according to fixed quotas. They are granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. Between 1991 and 2004, Jews from the former Soviet Union and its successor states had the opportunity to enter Germany as quota refugees. This was, in part, an attempt to revitalize Jewish life in Germany. Today Jews from the former Soviet Union make up a good 90% of all Jews who live in Germany and belong to a Jewish community. In Germany, people hoped to revive the type of community life that had also suffered in the GDR. However, by this time many (post)-Soviet Jews had forgotten their religion because of the pressure to assimilate, and had instead been shaped by everyday life in the USSR. They brought with them quite distinct food cultures, in which dishes like Herring Under a Fur Coat – a cold, layered salad of herring, eggs, and beetroot, that is similar in some ways to gefilte fish – became once again a way for people to retain their sense of identity and normality amid the upheaval of migration. Through private consumption and with a range of dishes that has become quite distinctive, Ashkenazi cuisine with a Soviet character has, in the meantime, gained fame even outside Eastern Europe. At Beluga in Dusseldorf or Pasternak in Berlin, this type of food is presented as rustic cooking with a modern twist – their wareniki and pelmeni dumplings are just as popular as the red borsht or the sundry, hearty meat and fish dishes. It is not kosher-certified, but there is an undeniable kosher style kosher style In the US and Canada, and to a lesser extent in other parts of the world, numerous restaurants prepare dishes “kosher-style.” They typically serve dishes with a Jewish touch such as knishes (baked or fried pies filled with potatoes, onions, eggs, and meat), bagels, blinis, or matzah ball soup. Sometimes they use traditional recipes, but Kashrut may or may not be followed. Shops serving this type of fare often call themselves delicatessens or delis. in the selection of fare and the absence of pork. Yet although Jewish life in Germany seems to have been heavily influenced by the East European or Soviet countries from which its communities fled, it remains rare as an everyday practice in those countries themselves.
Jewish heritage and its recent commercialization
In Europe, restaurants describing themselves as Jewish or kosher are typically located in urban centres. This is where larger Jewish communities and therefore potential consumers are based, and a trend for Israeli–Levantine fusion cuisine has emerged among the urban, young, liberal left in recent years. Not least because large cities are also centres for tourism, they must consider the needs of kosher travellers, for example, from the United States and Israel. The Kazimierz district of Kraków has long been the centre for a many-layered East-European Jewish cuisine and has absorbed the many influences of the Habsburg Monarchy over time; jewish-style cuisine is popular too, but for different reasons. Today the former Jewish quarter is home to numerous Jewish restaurants: menorahs menorahs Menorah (plural menoroth) in Hebrew simply means “light” or “lamp,” but usually this word refers to the seven-branched candelabrum that is one of the most important symbols of Judaism. There is even a menorah on the official emblem of Israel. The menorah symbolizes the creation of the world in seven days, and the seventh arm therefore stands for Shabbat. The seven-branched menorah should not be confused with the eight- or nine-armed hannukiah, the candelabrum used in Hannukah, the Jewish festival of lights. in the windows, Klezmer music, star of David graffiti and mock-Hebrew letters on the menus are all playfully employed to signal Jewish (food) culture. Jellied carp with raisins and almonds attests to the long tradition of fishpond cultivation in Eastern Europe, and served cold, this dish is very suitable as a Shabbat meal. Goose neck stuffed with chicken liver, formerly considered “poor people’s food,” is today used in tourist marketing as a prime example of authentic Ashkenazi cuisine, giving it a whole new value.
Restaurants filled with nostalgia for an imaginary, lost Jewish world, serve rediscovered classics: gefilte fish, cabbage rolls stuffed with buckwheat, herring, bean soup or goose giblets. And to follow, cholent, roast lamb, veal cutlets or herb-crusted trout fillet – all with sweet, spicy notes to indicate their Jewish–Polish provenance. Although before the Shoah, the average inhabitants of Kazimierz would only have served such a quantity of meat on feast days. This, too, points to a fabricated culinary past. In Kazimierz, authenticity happily rubs shoulders with fantasy: nobody really cares what is real, true, genuine or original – as long as it tastes good.
There is no kosher food in Kazimierz: one says “Jewish style” with a wink and a smile, pre-empting the question. The Jewish element – or what counts for it – remains purely decorative, a backdrop for the presentation (and construction) of a Jewish past, or merely a business concept to satisfy US and European tourism.
Intercultural eating habits
In the US, the promised land to which many Europeans (among them many Jews) emigrated during the second half of the 19th century, Jewish life is very well established. The main character in "The Estate"11  by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991) Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991) Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991) was a Polish American author. When he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, he was the first author writing in Yiddish to do so. Son of a Hasidic rabbi, he was born in Leoncin, Poland, and grew up in Warsaw. His brother Israel Joshua Singer was also an author who published in Yiddish, and Isaac followed him to the US. In his extensive work, which includes the trilogy The Family Moskat, The Manor, and The Estate, he returns again and again to life in Polish Jewish settlements and the everyday joys and hardships on the mainly Jewish Krochmalna Street in Warsaw. found, on the bustling shopping streets of New York, “barrels filled with herrings, pickled vegetables, and sauerkraut […] challah, bagels, and poppy seed rolls,” which he knew from his East European home.
Today bagels bagels A round bread roll with a hole in the centre. Brought to the US and Canada by East European immigrants and Ashkenazi Jews towards the end of the 19th century, and now often sold there in delis. Traditionally served with smoked meat, smoked salmon, and/or cream cheese, bagels are today considered to be a typical North American snack but have recently become popular in Europe again. with cream cheese and smoked salmon as well as pastrami sandwiches are hugely popular standard items in any delicatessen delicatessen Deli or delicatessen. Shops selling speciality foods, first established in New York City, often by Jewish immigrants, towards the end of the 19th century. Delis usually also sell small dishes to take away or to eat in the shop. A famous example is Katz‘s Delicatessen. The name comes from the French word “délicatesse” via the German “Delikatessen.” Today delis are increasingly common in Europe; often they will include a grocery shop and a casual dining area. They typically sell ready-prepared meals e.g. salads, small appetisers, (pastrami) sandwiches, bagels, matzah ball soup, golden joich, rugelach and other snacks. Often the dish selection is “kosher style” and draws on Ashkenazi cuisine. , particularly in New York, where these immigrants first arrived. They are Ashkenazi-American, intercultural products with wide appeal.
Food culture and eating habits provide an insight into new cultural forms made possible by mobility and globalization. Even the famous pastrami sandwich is a fusion food fusion food Fusion cuisine refers to the combination of different food cultures and gastronomic traditions, or (supposedly) classic regional and/or national cuisines. In recent times the expression has also come to be used for combinations of ingredients that do not seem to go together within a single dish. Fusion cuisine may be seen as a symbol of the era of globalization. , something that is becoming increasingly popular in this era of globalization. The fusion of different cuisines – e.g. rustic Ashkenazi cuisine with spicy Mediterranean Levant cuisine Levant cuisine The historical-geographical term for the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. In its broader meaning it may also be used to refer to the Greek peninsula and the Greek islands in the Aegean, the Mediterranean coastal regions of Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Palestine, historical Syria, and Egypt. In its narrower meaning it is limited to the east coast of the Mediterranean and its hinterland, that is, the region encompassing the modern states of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, and the Turkish province of Hatay. Levantine cuisine refers to the different gastronomical traditions and food cultures of the Levant. It reflects a wide range of culinary influences, is typically rich in spices (including cumin and coriander), vegetables, and pulses (including beans and chickpeas). – leads to new forms of expression that seem to embody the spirit of a “multi-option society,”12  that is, one focused on freedom of choice and diversity of options. The move from fixed mealtimes to snacking, and the increasing popularity of plant-based food are trends that are likely to change the way we eat, both at home and in restaurants.
If we think we can find Ashkenazi cuisine as it was served in the shtetls of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Berlin or New York today, we are deluding ourselves. In modern Kyiv and Warsaw, contemporary adaptations of famous dishes are marketed to conform to global standards. Even in the “last shtetl in Europe,” a historically inaccurate label given to the Antwerp Diamond Quarter that today is home to many Orthodox Jews, where Yiddish is still spoken, people cannot escape a certain confusion between Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi cuisine and happily serve kosher falafel.
Of a world that is no more (Israel J. Singer)?
East European Jewish culinary traditions, their emergence, development, and interaction with other food cultures, provide a new perspective on the Ashkenaz – a region with distinct variations despite its common roots – and its culinary characteristics. Ashkenazi environments and their legacy can be found today, in different ways, in Eastern Europe as well as in Germany, Israel, and the US, the primary migration destination for Ashkenazi Jews. Transnational processes and the diaspora have made it impossible to anticipate where these are, although one can trace the traditional routes. In a world where cultures are increasingly interlocked, they have become combined in new expressions of cultural identity; the particular and singular has become attractive, and that which is rich in tradition is given particular emphasis.13
The environment of the shtetls no longer exists,14  or if it does, only in diluted form in the ultra-Orthodox communities of New York, Antwerp, and a few places in Israel, where the social and cultural contexts are quite different. Yet food continues to acquire spiritual significance, particularly on feast days, as a medium for social cohesion. Thus Ashkenazi food culture has made its way into the reproduction of the Jewish quarter in Kazimierz, onto the tables of various Russian–Jewish restaurants in Germany, and, with bagels, into lunchboxes around the world.
FoodGuide Jewish Cuisine
Jewish cuisine is on everyone's lips today: cookbooks, films and trendy restaurants convey a dazzling picture - but one that only ever shows a small section. Jewish cuisine is as old as it is diverse, as widely ramified as it is ambiguous. Before the Shoah, it was widespread throughout most of Europe.
The FoodGuide Jewish Cuisine explores this cosmos in its interweaving with the respective national cuisines and at the same time with Jewish cultural history and its current trends.
Here, kosher and kosher-style cuisines, Ashkenazic and Sephardic dishes, the trends of the Levant and the experiments of a fusion cuisine are presented and, of course, also tasted. The authors take a look into the cooking pots and talk to guests and cooks - an invitation to discover the diversity of Jewish cultures in Europe through food.
Gunther Hirschfelder / Jana Stöxen / Markus Schreckhaas / Antonia Reck. FoodGuide Jüdische Küche. Geschichten – Menschen – Orte – Trends. Leipzig 2022.
To the publisher's page of the book

Siehe auch