By Georgie Tarn and Tracey Fine, December 10, 2009
The kitchen can be a dangerous place, but never more so than during the festival of Chanucah — the culprit, fried food. Of course it can be fabulous, but it also can be fatal, not only in the preparation, but also in the eating. If your house does not burn down due to a forgotten chip pan, if you are not charging around armed with air freshener and if you haven’t visited A&E with multiple burns, the fact is, just eating too much fried food can be a heart attack waiting to happen.
When it comes to attracting a partner, the ability to chop a courgette adeptly is crucial. Well, it is at Date on a Plate anyway. This is a regular evening run by chef and cookery writer Denise Phillips for foodies who want to date, or perhaps for daters who want to cook.
The recipe is simple. Get some single guys and single girls cooking and eating together, and perhaps there will be some chemistry as well as cookery. The beauty of it is that even if you don’t meet your soul mate, you will at least learn how to stuff a mushroom.
Although some consider cauliflower bland, when it’s cooked perfectly with the creamy curds and few surrounding pale green leaves just tender, cauliflower can be one of the most delicious vegetables in the cook’s repertoire. Mark Twain described it as a “cabbage with a college education”. Although it originated in Asia, its health-giving qualities make it a super-food for Ashkenazi Jews, as it may be helpful in fighting both breast and prostate cancers within the community.
What do your children eat at school? I have examined the provision of Jewish secondary schools in London and it is clear to me that most of the schools are following the government guidelines of no chips, limited ketchup, no salt, no nuts and vending machines that cannot sell fizzy drinks, chocolate, crisps and similar style of snacks, while water is available at all times. Staff had put an enormous amount of attention into content, method of payment and in many cases I was extremely impressed.
Jewish food — bland, stodgy, comforting and ultimately a little boring? Not if you are Tunisian.
North African Jews have a cuisine every bit as traditional and defined as that of the Eastern European shtetl, but that is about all it has in common. It is defined by its fragrant spices, heat from the fiery harissa paste, herbs, vegetables and meats.
Few dishes are more deeply rooted in the traditions of Jewish cuisine than stew. From the frozen wastes of Russia to the deserts of the Middle East, cooks have for centuries perfected the art of slow cooking, using a variety of vegetables, spices and meat.
To find the origins of the hearty kosher stew it is probably necessary to go back to the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when a plate of stewed lentils changed the course of Jewish history.
As the story goes, Jacob offered him a bowl full in exchange for his birthright, making it one of the most expensive meals in history.
The red/golden pumpkin is a glorious sight and now farmer’s market stalls are laden with these wonderful squashes. Of course they are not mentioned in the Bible because they arrived as galleon treasures from the New World, originally transported by Spanish conquistadors but distributed by Jewish merchants in exchange for silks and spices from the Orient.
It is all too easy for both parents and children to get into a routine of having the same packed lunch day in and day out. Nutritional content becomes limited and the children are not encouraged to experiment with new flavours, textures and experiences. The fussy eater is not exposed to new foods or new ingredients, as might be the case with a cooked school lunch, and may end up following the eating habits of their parents, who may only buy specific brands and eat a narrow range of foods.