Glossary of Ethnic Foods
Throughout history, Jews have lived around
the globe. Consequently, their cuisine
reflects the culinary influences of their
host country. For example, stuffed grape
leaves are popular with Sephardic Jews
whose roots are in Middle Eastern and
Mediterranean countries. For Ashkenazic
families who trace their roots to Central
and Eastern Europe, a Shabbos or Yom Tov
meal is not complete without gefilte fish.
Lox and bagels, a popular American
combination, was originated by
impoverished Jewish immigrants to these
shores because lox was inexpensive fare.
Therefore, only a few foods actually
relate to Jewish religious ritual. These
include matzoh and charoses which are
required eating on Passover. Wine and
challah are essential to the Shabbos and
Yom Tov rituals. Latkes have become
traditional Chanukah foods because they
are fried in oil. In this case, the oil is
the essential ingredient. Some have the
custom to eat donuts (Sufganiot in
Hebrew), which are also fried in oil,
instead of latkes.
Blintz - a
thin crepe-like pancake rolled around a
filling of cheese or fruit.
Borscht - a
classic beet soup served hot or chilled,
pureed or chunky.
Challah - a
sweet, eggy bread, usually braided, which is
served on Shabbos or Jewish festivals.
Charoset / Charoses - a
mixture of fruit, wine and nuts eaten at the
Passover seder meal. This condiment is
symbolic of the mortar used by the Jewish
slaves in Egypt.
Cholent - a
slow cooked stew (from the French chaud -
hot/warm and lent -slow) which is served on
Shabbos. Ingredients generally include beef,
vegetables, beans and barley. Since it is
not permitted to light a fire on Shabbos,
and since Jews wanted to eat hot food on
Shabbos, cholent became a popular dish.
Cooking starts before Shabbos begins, and
continues on a covered flame or in a
crockpot on Shabbos.
- traditionally served on Shabbos, made with
ground or chopped fish and shaped into balls
or a loaf.
stuffed cabbage, a favorite Hungarian dish.
small squares or circles of rolled pasta
dough filled with ground beef or chicken and
folded into triangles. They can be boiled
and served in soup or fried and served as a
side dish. They are traditionally served at
the Erev Yom Kippur meal as well as on
Hoshana Rabbah and Purim.
Kugel - a
casserole of potatoes, noodles or vegetables
in an egg based pudding. Kugel is a
traditional dish served on Shabbos or Yom
Latkes - a
potato pancake, fried in oil, traditionally
eaten during Chanukah.
Matzoh See "Matzoh"
Tzimmes - a sweet stew containing carrots.