Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Recipes for Jewish American Life

Ahava Ehrenpreis

We all have a few cookbooks, and view them as a useful collection of recipes. But did you ever think of them as an important historical tool? Or having a powerful role in communal life? Or serving as an emotional link between generations? A recent exhibition at the University of Michigan showed that a Jewish cookbook often reveals as much about us as it shares the food we love.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

When I received an invitation for a family simchah in my hometown, which is an hour’s drive from theUniversity ofMichigan inAnn Arbor, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to see an exhibition at the university’s Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.

The library isn’t one of my usual stops, but this exhibition, which ran for two months, promised to be something special: American Foodways: The Jewish Contribution focused on Jewish community cookbooks. It was curated by Janice Bluestein Longone, adjunct curator of American culinary history in special collections at theUniversity ofMichigan.

Ms. Longone is a culinary historian who has amassed a collection of over 25,000 items related to culinary literature and ephemera during her more than 40 years of scouting out flea markets, used bookstores, and other venues. Her research has been used by famous chefs such as Craig Claiborne, Alice Waters, and Julia Child, and she has received a lifetime achievement award in culinary literature from the New York Public Library and the Culinary Historians of New York.

Ms. Longone wasn’t available the day I arrived in Ann Arbor, but I was met by Avery Robinson, a master’s degree graduate student who co-curated the exhibit and who showed me around. The poster that greeted me in the library’s main lobby featured the cover of one of the cookbooks mentioned in the exhibit, More than Matzo Balls (2010). A busy looking “cook” was stirring something that I assume was chicken soup. Very charming, I thought to myself.

But that opening poster in no way prepared me for the delightful, historical, visual, and just plain fun experience of this exhibit.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity