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April 4, 2017 12:12 pm

‘The Essential Quality of Jewish Food Is Allegiance to Dietary Laws,’ Says Award-Winning Chef Joan Nathan With the Release of Her Latest Cookbook

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Hummus with preserved lemons. Photo: Gabriela Herman via Joan Nathan’s Instagram.

Award-winning chef and best-selling author Joan Nathan gave her take on the definition of “Jewish food” on Tuesday, with the publication of her latest cookbook.

In an interview with business news site Bloomberg, Nathan, a two-time recipient of the James Beard Award with 11 books under her belt, described it as “wandering food,” adding that its “essential quality is the allegiance, at least in the back of your mind, to the dietary laws” — a reference to keeping kosher.

“Also,” she said, referring to the title of her hot-off-the-presses King Solomon’s Table, “Jews have always been merchants, since the time of King Solomon, when they went out to the then known world looking for gems, spices. They were looking for whatever was new. Even today, we [Jews] are obsessed by food.”

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A third point Nathan made is that the Jews have been “kicked out of so many countries, which is so relevant today, and that we’ve had to adapt to the regionality of other countries, but always with the dietary laws in mind.”

She summed it up as follows: “Today, in a world where everybody is trying to become homogenized, a sweet-and-sour cabbage that was served year after year makes you who you are, in a sense. And the stories around food also make us who we are. Eating together is a comfort, and I think that’s so important, and that we need it desperately.”

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