This new cookbook from Jake Cohen, the social media-famous Gen Zer with Michelin-level cooking knowledge, serves as an analog to his digital persona. If you are unfamiliar with Cohen and his penchant for innuendos and cringey content, I suggest you watch a few of his videos to get a sense of his tone and style — think traditional food from your 1950s Jewish grandmother, infused with 2020s ingredients, chef jargon, and food styling.
According to Cohen, “noshing” is the act of eating food enthusiastically, often between meals. This Yiddishism has the ring of a stereotypical 1960s Jewish grandmother worrying that her guest (or, heaven forbid, her grandchild) would ever leave her house hungry (a shanda!). There must always be food available — dips on standby, a snacking cake on the counter, cookies in a tin, and something more substantial in the freezer.
Cohen is a formally trained chef who has worked in some of New York’s most prestigious kitchens. His cookbook celebrates traditional Jewish foods from across the diaspora and then enlivens them with ingredients and techniques from a global kitchen; some of his dishes include cholent bourguignon, sabich egg salad, and miso mushroom barley soup. In his introduction to charoset rugelach, Cohen describes his newfound sense of Jewish culinary pride: “We’ve been able to finally see our truest selves in our biggest passion.”
I Could Nosh rejoices in Jew-ish food and the individuals — moms, grandmas, aunts, and friends — who have carried the torch to the next generation (i.e., Jake’s social media), then elevates that food with incredible styling and flourish. Although many of the photographs leave something to be desired, the bright, beautiful colors of the dishes will inspire you to garnish everything with herbs, citrus zest, and decorative drizzles on appropriately matching plates. Readers can take comfort in being able to follow a Jake Cohen recipe without needing to constantly pause and rewatch his short, ASMR-filled videos.
Avery Robinson is a Jewish nonprofit professional living in Brooklyn. In his spare time, he freelances as an editor, culinary historian, cofounder of the climate change nonprofit Rye Revival, and manager of Black Rooster Foods. His writings have appeared in Marginalia Review of Books, Jerusalem Post, TabletMag, and The Forward.