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The Jewish community has long been nicknamed the People of the Book—a reference to our connection to the Torah—but I’ve always thought it would be just as accurate to call us the People of the Cookbook. From spiral-bound community collections to James Beard Award-winning tomes, the canon of Jewish cookbooks is remarkably broad. Taken together, they paint a picture of a diverse people bound together by a shared love of food. Here, a shortlist of my favorites. —Leah Koenig

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Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews (Poopa Dweck (Ecco, 2007)

Classic Italian Jewish Cooking: Traditional Recipes and Menus
Edda Servi Machlin (Ecco 2005) There’s a well-known Yiddish saying, “Two Jews, three opinions,” which, in essence, means that Jews love a good debate. In that spirit, for the last entry in this Top 5 list I offer you two options, because I can’t decide which I like better: Poopa Dweck’s Aromas of Aleppo and Edda Servi Machlin’s Classic Italian Jewish Cooking. Each of these volumes deftly captures the soul of its subject. Dweck’s stunning book is a love letter to her culinary heritage, telling the story of Aleppo’s now-vanished Jewish community through its cuisine with dishes such as kibbeh (stuffed Syrian meatballs), ejjeh b¿kerrateh (leek fritters), and honeyed rice pudding. Machlin, now 85, shares memories from her childhood in Pitigliano (once known as “Little Jerusalem”), and includes regional Italian Jewish recipes like the famous carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes) and the less familiar creamed baccala (salt cod) and sfratti (honey walnut stick cookies). Both Dweck and Machlin understand that the best way to preserve traditional foods are to cook and eat them, and their books give us every reason to rally behind their cause. Buy Aromas of Aleppo on Amazon.com » Buy Classic Italian Jewish Cooking on Amazon.com »

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