Clas­sic Cui­sine of the Ital­ian Jews: Tra­di­tion­al Menus and Recipes

Edda Servi Machlin
  • Review
By – August 15, 2012
For Amer­i­can Jews, brought up on the stol­id meat-and-pota­toes diet of East­ern and Cen­tral Europe, the food of the Ital­ian Jews offers a new menu. Infused with fresh fla­vors — herbs, pas­ta, fruits and veg­eta­bles— these vari­a­tions on the Sephardic table cor­re­spond to our taste for the lighter and brighter dish­es of the Mediter­ranean. 

But Edda Servi Machlin’s Clas­sic Ital­ian Jew­ish Cook­ing is much more than a col­lec­tion of attrac­tive and straight­for­ward recipes. A lov­ing trib­ute to the lost Jew­ish life of Pit­igliano, a small town in Tus­cany where Jews and their Chris­t­ian neigh­bors lived har­mo­nious­ly for 600 years, the book pre­serves a vivid pic­ture of the town’s rich Jew­ish life — the under­ground com­mu­nal oven where the women baked mat­zos for Passover, the sec­u­lar and Jew­ish libraries main­tained by the syn­a­gogue, the elab­o­rate prepa­ra­tions for Shabbat. 

This edi­tion brings togeth­er 300 recipes select­ed from three ear­li­er books by Mach­lin on Ital­ian-Jew­ish cui­sine, along with her affec­tion­ate mem­o­ries and teacher’s enthu­si­asm for pass­ing on this rich culi­nary lega­cy. Illus­tra­tions, index. 

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions