Jewish Soul FoodTraditional Fare and What It Means


A lighthearted introduction to the art of traditional Jewish cooking, which links Jewish foods and Jewish beliefs.

Jewish traditional foods often have symbolic meanings. A Passover matzo is a taste of Egyptian slavery. The Hanukkah latke reminds us of the little jug of oil that burned, miraculously, for eight nights. Noshing hamentaschen at Purim, we remember the villain Haman, and his thwarted plan to destroy the Jews.

Even more than in the synagogue, Jewish life takes place around the dining table. Jewish sages compare the dining table to an altar, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Jewish meals are ceremonies and celebrations that forge a pathway between body and soul.

In this unique cookbook, Carol Ungar links the cultural and religious symbolism of Jewish foods to more than one hundred recipes drawn from international Jewish cultures and traditions. She offers easy-to-follow recipes for Shabbat meals and all the Jewish holidays, from Rosh Hashana to the nine days before Tisha b’Av, along with fascinating briefs on how many Jewish foods—challah, kreplach, farfel, and more—express core Jewish beliefs.

With ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, and recipes adapted for the time- and health-conscious cook, this volume is for anyone who wishes to flavor Shabbat and holiday meals with Jewish soul.

CAROL UNGAR, a freelance writer who lives in Israel, has written for Tablet, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications. Her website is kosherhomecooking.com.

“Carol Ungar unveils the mystery of each food’s mystical connotation, its deliberately designed purpose, and its relationship to specific holiday cuisine, raising our consciousness in such a way that eating becomes a much deeper, more spiritually fulfilling act.”—Yitta Halberstam

“Carol Ungar didn’t design her Jewish Soul Food book as a cookbook in the strict, or even loose, sense of the term. Rather, she intended her book to be a sort of a survival guide for Jewish expats everywhere: It is not only a comprehensive compilation of dishes we Jews love to crave and wax nostalgic about, it is as importantly about the meaning and the mystique around them, what has immortalized those timeless dishes throughout our turbulent history, and what has made them survive.” —Levana’s Whole Foods Kitchen

“Carol Ungar gives us a rare combination: virtuoso writing, spiritual depth, authentic tradition, and delicious recipes. This book is a treat for body, mind, and soul.”—Sara Yoheved Rigler