Review of “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous” in Shalom Magazine

Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous:

My Search for Jewish cooking in France (Knopf)

By Matt Robinson

Being Jewish in France can be complicated. According to a

rabbi in Arles, there are two words you do not say in France:

“Jew” and “Israel.” While the maps on top of the Eiffel Tower

that mark the distances between

Paris and other major cities list

Tel Aviv as being in Israel and

show the Israeli flag next to the

words, Jerusalem has the flag,

but no official claim from the

Jewish State.

And yet, Jewish culture is

everywhere. From the Jewish

museums and tributes to the “deported”

(who are again often not

officially said top be Jews) but

to art from the legendary likes

of Marc Chagall, Jewish culture

is everywhere in France, even if

they do not wish to admit it.

In few places is the Jewish

stamp more prevalent than in the

food. In her latest cookbook, Joan Nathan, host of Jewish Cooking

in America and noted expert on the cuisines of both cultures,

goes searching for the source materials for some of France’s

most famous recipes. Along the way, she meets people and hears

stories that give hope to Jews in France and throughout the world.

From appetizers to desserts to the titular quiches, kugels, and

couscous, Nathan offers a variety of options for every course and

every taste. Along the way, she also offers interesting profiles

of the people who have made and continue to make the Jewish

community in France a strong and sustaining one. Exploring such

relevant issues as kashrut and anti-Semitism, Nathan’s cookbook

is more than just a cookbook. Complete with sample menus for

every occasion from Shabbat dinner to “Purim Provencal,” as well

as a glossary of ingredients and a guide to Jewish and Jewishfriendly

restaurants and stores, Nathan offers up everything a cook

could want to learn how to cook á la Parisienne Juif, and how to

navigate the gastronomic history of Jews in France. It is a journey

that takes dedication and curiosity, but the rewards are delicious!