Query re old Jewish & Israeli cookbooks

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Query re old Jewish & Israeli cookbooks

Postby Anthony Silverbrow » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:34 pm

I'm trying to learn more about two cookbooks I recently bought and would appreciate any thoughts/memories you might have of either.

How to cook on Palestine, Dr Erna Meyer is as far as I can tell one of the first cookbooks written in what is now Israel. Published in the thirties by Wizo it is intended as a how-to for newly immigrated, particularly European, Jews. It is written in English, German and Hebrew. Specifically it seems to be a way of teaching the bubbes how to get used to the heat and produce of Israel.

Kochbuch fur die einfache und feine Judische kuche, Marie Elfaffer. I know very little about this book. It appears to be written in high German. My copy appears to be have been given as a gift on 2 May 1930. Quite remarkable to think of someone subsequently fleeing Germany but holding on to the book.

I'd really appreciate any insight. Thanks.
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Re: Query re old Jewish & Israeli cookbooks

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:34 pm

Anthony, Hi....

Erna Meyer immigrated to British Mandate Palestine from Germany in the early 1930's. The information I have indicates that her book, indeed the first cookbook published in what is now Israel was first published in English in 1936 and then, some six years later, in Hebrew. I have been told that there was also a German language edition but cannot lay hands on or confirm that. If I had to draw a comparison in culinary pioneering it would be to Amelia Simmons who published her "American Cookery" in 1796.

Indeed her self-appointed task was in convincing women who did the cooking in nearly all homes and on the kibbutzim that the dishes to which people had become accustomed in Germany, Austria and Poland were not appropriate to the climate of the Middle East, being far too heavy to make for easy digestion in such a different clime. She stressed the use of local ingredients, those especially including olive oil, labane (yoghurt cheese), eggplant and low-fat ingredients. In an odd way perhaps, a predecessor of the Mediterrranean Diet.

The 1936 English language edition that I have was published by WIZO (the Women's International Zionist Organization). I also have a copy of her 1942 book, that in Hebrew, which was published by Shocken (a family that remains in the publishing business as well as owning HaAretz Newspaper for which I write). As to the recipes in the book, Dr Meyer wisely restricted herself to ingredients that were easily and inexpensively available. As a possibly amusing side-story, at public speaking engagements she encouraged people to eat olives for breakfast - startling for many European ingredients but now of course part of the breakfasts of many, many Israelis.

Interestingly as well, in her books, the cookery remains basically European in nature and spoke not at all to the foods of those Jews who were making their way to Palestine from North Africa. Only later did she publish pamphlets (again through WIZO) in which she became a strong advocate of the cookery of the Maghreb.

If you should want more information on this the two people to contact would be Claudia Roden and Joan Nathan, both of whom will almost surely have a good deal to say about the books and the person.

As to the second book, I have no information but will check with the antiquarian book dealer Pollack tomorrow and see if I have any luck.

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Re: Query re old Jewish & Israeli cookbooks

Postby Anthony Silverbrow » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:47 am

Thanks Daniel. It dawned on me late last night - before I saw your reply - that I really should contact Claudia Roden, which I'll do. If you know a good way of contact Joan Nathan, I'd appreciate any help.

Just to be clear, my version of Erna Meyer's book is in English, Hebrew and German - all in the one edition. This sounds unwieldy but is actually very well managed.

Any further help on either gratefully received thanks.
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Re: Query re old Jewish & Israeli cookbooks

Postby Trevor F » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:37 am

I came across this link :

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/israe ... rld_advice

I like this excerpt :

" In a chapter titled “Caring for a Sick One,” she counsels how to best feed the ill, admonishing, “In no part of the kitchen is there as much art and devoted care as in cooking for a sick one. Everything must be tasty, healthy, and fresh,” she writes. “People who don’t know how to cook for a sick one can very easily make them even sicker.”

Braun suggests serving a variety of food from soups to raw beef sandwiches and always with a white napkin, polished cutlery and “the nicest plates.”

Raw beef sandwiches if you're sick ?
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