About Food, Family and Tradition

About Food, Family and Tradition

The Story Behind the Book

For centuries, Jewish families celebrated their religious traditions throughout Europe, traditions that were integral parts of the culture in many great European cities. All that changed with the Nazis’ program to exterminate European Jewry in World War II, killing six million. Only a small remnant survived. Summer 2014 marks 70 years since the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. This new book chronicles the story one Hungarian-Czech Jewish family whose survivors emigrated to the U.S. where they created new family traditions and stories, woven with threads from the old, to celebrate afresh the spirit of Eastern European Jewish traditions.

FOOD, FAMILY AND TRADITION: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances (The Cherry Press/August 2014; Hardcover/$35.00) by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, contains more than 150 original, never-before-published recipes with full-color photographs and preparation methods updated for the modern kitchen. Through telling the story of her father and mother, Sandor and Margit Kirsche (founders of Hungarian Kosher Foods, the largest all-kosher supermarket in the Midwest), and presenting their original family recipes, the voice of one family becomes the voice the many who lived in that time and place. And their survival becomes a testament to the courage and resilience of all Survivors who had the courage and strength to rebuild their lives.

After I started putting this book together, I understood that my family’s recipes and history were part of a larger world: the traditional Jewish life in Czechoslovakia and Hungary before the Holocaust,” Lynn explains. “Many books have been written to educate others, to bear witness to the events and atrocities of the Holocaust. My book also attempts to give a picture of the richness of Jewish life in Eastern Europe prior to the Holocaust. Strong family traditions were the bedrock on which our parents, and so many of the Holocaust survivors, were raised.”

The book has two parts. Part one is the family memoir with period photographs, biographies, a family tree (of victims and survivors) and original vignettes about Jewish culture, kosher wine, holidays and traditions. Part two is a cookbook of 150 family recipes with preparation methods updated for the contemporary kitchen. The ten recipe chapters range from savory to sweet, from appetizers and soups to entrees and desserts.

Each recipe (labeled dairy, meat, or parve), has headnotes that inform today’s cook about ingredient substitutions, preparation tips, serving suggestions and timing along with priceless remembrances – sweet, bitter and bittersweet – that puts these recipes in the context of rich, vibrant Jewish life and culture in Eastern Europe prior to the Holocaust. Some of the recipes in the book include:

Sweet Treats for the Holidays

  • Gefilte Fish
  • Traditional Potato Kugel (Kaizle)
  • Chopped Herring
  • Kakaos Chocolate Yeast Roll
  • Mandel Brea
  • Potato-Egg Casserole (Rakott Krumpli)
  • Mother’s Blintzes
  • Whitefish with Carrots and Onions
  • Boiled Tongue
  • Brisket
  • Veal Schnitzel
  • Chicken Paprikás with Dumplings (Nakidlach)
  • Duck Roasted with Fruit
  • Hungarian Goulash
  • Kasha
  • Tzimmes
  • Plum Preserves (Lekvar)
  • Honey Cake

“My hope is that through my family’s stories you will see a picture of the community that was suddenly and brutally extinguished, the dedication to Jewish law that was solid and resilient, and the warmth of the Jewish community. I hope that through these centuries-old recipes you will get a taste of the culinary tradition of the Jews in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Finally, I hope that you will feel the dedication of the Holocaust survivors—those who remained in Europe, those who went to Israel and those who came to the States.”

FOOD, FAMILY AND TRADITION is a testament to both the strength and faith of the Survivors during the War and the courage to rebuild their lives. Above all, the book brings the food of yesterday to today’s table, preserving family traditions.

Published by: The Cherry Press, LLC
Web site: thecherrypress.com

Food Family and Tradition Table of Contents