Why New York is doing the vodka-queen diet

By Anthea Gerrie, January 29, 2009

For a nice Jewish girl, she is shockingly down on bread, bagels and cheesecake. But Esther Blum does recommend butter and chocolate, even to dieters, and is happy to share her recipe for the best vodka martini.

Sarah Jessica Parker reputedly follows this new-age nutritionist’s unconventional advice — which thrills 38-year-old Blum. The enviably trim New York mum says Carrie Bradshaw was a big inspiration for her Sex and the City-style diet book, which is currently attracting more hype than the new Dr Who.


A key roll in history

By Ruth Joseph, January 22, 2009

As fishmongers and their customers enjoy the seasonal abundance of the herring, it’s good to remember how this humble fish has served our ancestors. It is wrapped in nostalgia.

During my childhood I remember going with my father to the local deli, which was percolated with magical fragrances of spices and pickles. I’d munch on a soft-crusted bulke and gaze at huddles of hatted Jewish women gossiping, while seeking out the plumpest herrings.


Olives: the bitter truth

By Nathan Jeffay, January 14, 2009

The olive may be decidedly trendy today. But most of us have no idea how it is transformed from a hard, bullet-like fruit to the jarred or tinned product that garnishes our cocktails and tops our pizzas.

“It’s a shame that the preparation of olives is such a mystery to most people as it’s not that different to how many people’s grandmas and aunts used to pickle cucumbers and cabbage,” says Nitzan Shatzkin, head grower for Halutza, one of Israel’s most internationally-renowned brands of olives and olive oil.


How kosher became a hot superstore label

By Denise Phillips, January 8, 2009

For those of us who live in the main Jewish areas of the major cities of the UK, kosher shopping has never been much of a problem. We have always had a wide range of kosher delis and shops available.

However, in the marginal neighbourhoods that cannot sustain a Jewish deli, the accessibility of kosher food has significantly improved over recent years with the provision of kosher items in the major supermarkets.


How the humble spud saved our skins

By Ruth Joseph, December 30, 2008

What a fascinating role the potato plays in Jewish social history. Contrary to the Tudor legend, it was first introduced to Spain in 1570 by the Spanish conquistadors, who discovered it while hunting Peruvian gold. But the Spanish distrusted and ostracised the new tuber. As it was not mentioned in the Bible and originated from a heathen culture, it was frowned on by the Catholic Church.


‘Bagels can change your perspective on history’

By Alex Kasriel, December 18, 2008

There are few people in this world — coeliacs excepted — who do not enjoy a bagel with cream cheese and a slice of smoked salmon. But one woman’s love of the roll with the hole became so all-consuming that she wrote a book about its history.


A festival to fry for

By Denise Phillips, December 18, 2008

The dinner table at Chanucah is an expression of the different rituals of each family, their culture and the community they come from. However, one thing is common to most families — a focus on fried foods to reflect the story of the festival.

In Israel they make doughnuts, or sufganiyot, filled with jam similar to the German berliner, the Polish paczke or the Russian ponchik. In Yiddish they are known as ponchkes. The word sufganiyot derives from the Hebrew for sponge, which suitably describes their texture.


Olive oil: the miracle ingredient

By Ruth Joseph, December 11, 2008

Chanucah celebrates the supremacy of the Jewish rebels over Greek occupiers. During the period of the Second Temple, the Syrian/Greek rulers forced Jews to worship Greek deities and, under threat of torture and death, prevented them from practising their religions. Thousands of Jews were taken into slavery and massacred, while the Temple was systematically pillaged and despoiled.


A super bowl story

By Ruth Joseph, December 4, 2008

On a cold winter’s day, we crave something warming and comforting, and our minds turn to soup. Traditionally, soup has always been part of Jewish culture. The mess of potage given by Jacob to Esau was first mentioned in Genesis.


Is ‘glatt kosher’ a meaningless label?

By Nathan Jeffay, November 27, 2008

Once, we competed for kudos with the labels on our clothes. Today, it is the labels on our food that matter.

As large segments of society have decided that organic is a must-have, in kosher-observant circles, prestigious rabbinical certifications have become increasingly important.

Take a trip to a kosher supermarket anywhere in the world and you will see shelves loaded with goods boasting all sorts of kashrut credentials, such as glatt, mehadrin and yashan.