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The Sparkling Jewish History of Dr. Brown’s Soda

When June Hersh, author of the recent book Iconic New York City Jewish Food, walks into a Jewish deli, her “biggest decision is not rye bread with seeds or without seeds or Russian dressing or mustard,” she says. “[My] biggest decision is Cream Soda or…

When June Hersh, author of the recent book Iconic New York City Jewish Food, walks into a Jewish deli, her “biggest decision is not rye bread with seeds or without seeds or Russian dressing or mustard,” she says. “[My] biggest decision is Cream Soda or Black Cherry.”

That she doesn’t need to specify the brand is a testament to the enduring staying power of one in particular: Dr. Brown’s, the kosher soda whose celery “Cel-Ray” flavor was nicknamed “Jewish champagne” by columnist Walter Winchell in the 1930s. Today, Dr. Brown’s sells five flavors—the aforementioned Black Cherry, Cream Soda, and Cel-Ray, as well as the less commonly sold Root Beer and Ginger Ale—mostly alongside cured meat sandwiches and knishes at Jewish delis. Each can or bottle is adorned with a black-and-white sketch of a New York City landmark: the Central Park Carousel, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge.

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focaccia onion board

Welcome to the cutting room floor. Whenever I finish a cookbook, there are recipes that didn’t make the final book not because they’re flawed in any way, but because they weren’t necessary. Smitten Kitchen Keepers already has…

Welcome to the cutting room floor. Whenever I finish a cookbook, there are recipes that didn’t make the final book not because they’re flawed in any way, but because they weren’t necessary. Smitten Kitchen Keepers already has a couple great savory breads and sufficient caramelized onion magnificence, so I pulled this recipe out because I knew it would be perfect for the site, right now. Why? This week is the most significant Jewish holiday of the year, Yom Kippur, a day of atonement. It is traditional fast for the day, and the fast is traditionally broken with a dairy meal, quite often a giant spread of bagels and fixings. But that wasn’t the first time I made this. In March 2020, when the whole world shut down, so of course did all of the bagel shops in my neighborhood. I started making easy bagel-y breads so we could still enjoy our cream cheese and lox weekend fix. This one has a cool history, too.

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chicken liver pâté

I started hosting Passover seder four years ago. My dad had just passed away and my mother, who usually hosts, appreciated the relief. I don’t usually host holidays — well, they let me have Hanukkah — because our space is so …

I started hosting Passover seder four years ago. My dad had just passed away and my mother, who usually hosts, appreciated the relief. I don’t usually host holidays — well, they let me have Hanukkah — because our space is so small and the traffic, so terrible, but I must have done too good of a job because I haven’t stopped since. This means I have a secret archive of Passover recipes I’ve been keeping from you, and it’s rather rude. Here is one.

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This Bread Is Beloved in Paris—& a Relic of Jewish History

You don’t hear much about the pletzel these days. On one hand, it’s an Ashkenazi Jewish flatbread covered with raw onions and poppy seeds. On the other hand, it’s a neighborhood in Paris.

The name comes from the Yiddish for “little square,” as in a li…

You don't hear much about the pletzel these days. On one hand, it’s an Ashkenazi Jewish flatbread covered with raw onions and poppy seeds. On the other hand, it’s a neighborhood in Paris.

The name comes from the Yiddish for "little square," as in a little area within a city. (Technically, the Yiddish spelling of the neighborhood is “פּלעצל,” which transliterates to “pletzl.” The flatbread, on the other hand, is more commonly spelled “pletzel.”) The Pletzl in Paris sits in the Marais neighborhood of the Fourth Arrondissement. A nondescript plaque on the corner of Rue des Rosiers and the Rue Ferdinand Duval tells the story of Ashkenazi Jews rushing to Paris in the late 19th century, fleeing persecution primarily from pogroms throughout the Russian empire. Jewish immigrants continued to arrive in the city from Romania, Russia, and throughout the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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The Festive Purim Gifting Tradition I’ll Never Skip

As a kid, nothing filled me with more glee than waking up on Purim morning. It wasn’t the sticky, jam-filled hamantaschen I looked forward to (although I certainly ate my fair share), or even the costume I’d decided to wear, carefully chosen and laid o…

As a kid, nothing filled me with more glee than waking up on Purim morning. It wasn’t the sticky, jam-filled hamantaschen I looked forward to (although I certainly ate my fair share), or even the costume I’d decided to wear, carefully chosen and laid out neatly beside my bed. It was what I knew the day would bring: sharing mishloach manot.

There are four mitzvot (positive commandments) associated with Purim: charity, eating a festive meal, listening to readings from the Book of Esther, and giving mishloach manot. The latter, also known as shalach manot, are gifts of food and drink exchanged with family and friends. Sharing these treat-filled packages is a thrilling tradition—it’s also, arguably, the most important part of the holiday, with ancient, storied roots that stem from the Book of Esther, or as it’s more commonly known, the Megillah.

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Why This Classic Romanian-Jewish Dish Is Nearly Impossible to Find

When said aloud, the word sounds almost like music: Mamaliga. An almost-facsimile of polenta, the cornmeal-based dish mamaliga is native to Romania and neighboring Moldova, as well as parts of the Ukraine. Written as mamelige in Yiddish, and mămăligă …

When said aloud, the word sounds almost like music: Mamaliga. An almost-facsimile of polenta, the cornmeal-based dish mamaliga is native to Romania and neighboring Moldova, as well as parts of the Ukraine. Written as mamelige in Yiddish, and mămăligă in Romanian, the dish inspires an almost romantic yearning, particularly among Ashkenazi and Romanian Jews. In his famous song “Rumania, Rumania” originally recorded in 1925, Yiddish theater actor and singer Aaron Lebedeff extols the delights of the eponymous land through its comestibles: “Vos dos harts glust kenstu krign: A mamaligele, a pastramele, a karnatsele, Un a glezele vayn, aha…!” (In English: “What your heart desires you can get; a mamalige, a pastrami, a karnatzl, and a glass of wine, aha…!”)

Mamaliga is, in its most basic form, quite simple: coarsely-ground yellow cornmeal—the same kind used for polenta—cooked with water and salt over a low heat. It takes about half an hour to cook, stirring constantly, says Roza Jaffe, a home cook and Holocaust survivor from the region of Bessarabia, which today straddles Moldova and the Ukraine. (I personally spent upwards of an hour standing over my Dutch oven in both of my attempts to make it, though I am a notoriously slow cook).

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13 Purim Recipes to Feast on This Year

A celebratory holiday based upon a rather dark—yet triumphant by the end—story, Purim (literally meaning “lots”) is centered around a young Jewish woman named Esther. As Esther rose through ranks to become the queen of Persia, she kept her religious id…

A celebratory holiday based upon a rather dark—yet triumphant by the end—story, Purim (literally meaning "lots") is centered around a young Jewish woman named Esther. As Esther rose through ranks to become the queen of Persia, she kept her religious identity secret to her husband, King Ahasuerus. With the help of her cousin and father figure Mordecai, Esther foils the plot of Persian Empire official, Haman, who’d planned to exterminate all Jewish people, by revealing her true identity to the king. Haman was removed from power, the Jewish people were kept safe, and everyone celebrated. There’s a lot more to it, of course, but even with all this biblical gossip I can sense you’re itching to comment, “just give us the recipes, already!” So I’ll be quick: In short, Purim is a party.

Purim is observed by dressing up as characters in retellings of the story; giving money to those less fortunate; sharing gift bags, or mishloach manot, with friends; and partaking in the festive meal known as seudah, which involves loads of food and even more wine. (In fact, according to the Talmud, it’s said to drink until one can no longer distinguish between the phrases "arur Haman," or cursed is Haman; and "baruch Mordecha," or blessed is Mordecai,—but there’s no requirement to actually get sloshed.)

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Everything You Need for a Beautiful Passover Table

Any holiday dinner can be an excuse to break out the best and brightest of your serveware, and Passover, especially, is the perfect chance to create an elegant, bold tablescape to impress your friends and family. “Passover seder,” says Devora Wilhelm, …

Any holiday dinner can be an excuse to break out the best and brightest of your serveware, and Passover, especially, is the perfect chance to create an elegant, bold tablescape to impress your friends and family. “Passover seder,” says Devora Wilhelm, Co-Director of Chabad Young Professionals Upper East Side, “should feel like a royal table, as the whole experience is about how Jews left exile and were redeemed.” And since it is all about the table, you can focus all your attention on making it shine.

Beyond the usual serving plates and water glasses, the holiday of Passover dictates a certain assortment of items to properly celebrate, and since your guests will be seated at the table for several hours, you’ll want to be sure to have all your decorative (and practical!) ducks in a row.

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How to Make Noodle Kugel Without a Recipe

Here at Food52, we love recipes—but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don’t always need a recipe, you’ll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: Whether you grew up on your bubbe’s kugel or yo…

Here at Food52, we love recipes—but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Whether you grew up on your bubbe's kugel or you have no idea what kugel is, you can (and should) make a perfectly sweet, family-friendly casserole that will have you noshing in no time.

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Latke Patacones Are as Untraditional—& Outstanding—as They Sound

I was first introduced to my favorite snack in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica—a small town outside of the capital, San José, where I went to graduate school. After class one day, I joined some friends and a professor for drinks and snacks at Zompopas, a no-f…

I was first introduced to my favorite snack in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica—a small town outside of the capital, San José, where I went to graduate school. After class one day, I joined some friends and a professor for drinks and snacks at Zompopas, a no-frills bar and restaurant where you shuffle around fold-out chairs and slide tables together for larger gatherings.

Before long, there was a plate of patacones in front of us to share, with a small bowl of refried black beans in the middle topped with crumbled fresh cheese. It was love at first crunch.

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