As someone raised on chopped liver, cholent and chicken soup, I've always found Sephardi recipes exciting. Ashkenazi food offers starch and comfort - carbs to fuel you through a snowdrift. Sephardi food is sexier.
Meatballs are one of our most versatile of foods. They can be small, large, cocktail or flat, can be made of chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, veal or other meats and often include onions, flour, herbs and spices or even dried fruits. They can also be cooked by frying, baking, steaming, barbecuing or braised in soups.
Remember when we were children and Purim was looming? How excited we were, unable to sleep thinking about the Purim party, and the reading of the Megillah when we would be allowed to make a noise in shul with our parents' and the rabbi's permission; and the joy of dressing up as Esther or Mordecai.
What with the recent Chinese new year celebrations, a lot of people have been eating a lot of Chinese food. Jews are up there with the biggest chow mein chompers and hot-and-sour soup slurpers. And because there are no dairy ingredients in Chinese cuisine, no kashrut compromise is required when making Chinese meat dishes (once you have removed pork from the ingredients list, that is).
On February 14, millions of people send cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts to the ones they love, or hope to love. Restaurants make a special event of the day, linking love with food. But there is plenty of discussion as to whether Jews should join in the celebrations.
February 14 was named by Pope Gelasius 1, in 496 CE, as the day to commemorate the martyrdom of a priest called Valentine. But the story was based on legend, so much so, that in 1969, the Pope removed official recognition of the festival.
We tend to think of risotto as a comfort food. In its traditional form it is a rich affair laced with generous amounts of butter and Parmesan. Once, when I was involved in a television programme in Tuscany, the chef was horrified that I preferred my porcini risotto without the pounds of butter and cheese.
It is Friday morning and it is peak challah-buying time at Rinkoff's. Peter, who works in the legal profession, has been buying challah here for four years. He is partial to the strudel too. Next in the queue is Michelle who lives round the corner, and works as a volunteer for the area's ageing and dwindling Jewish community.
The area was once the cradle of Britain's Jewish community, with more than 150,000 Jewish immigrants. Now there are now only 2,000 or so in the East End where Rinkoff's opened 100 years ago this year. So who is buying the challah in Whitechapel these days?