Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher's Wife

by Sharon Lurie

Publisher: Struik
Genre: Cookbook
Verdict: Titillating to taste buds
Book Reviewed by: Philip Todres
Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher's Wife by Sharon Lurie

I thought I would take on a challenge and review a cook book this month.

Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife by Sharon Lurie seemed like a well timed challenge. The book is divided up into the different foods appropriate to the times when the Jewish family gathers around the table to celebrate Shabbat or other special holidays. The emphasis is upon traditional with some modern twists and the recipes comply with the dietary laws governing kosher cuisine.

Now I have to confess that I firmly believe that the two most important pieces of equipment in a kitchen are a telephone and a motor car. You can whip up a meal really efficiently this way. So I profess to collecting useful telephone numbers rather than recipes. But with Passover soon upon us, I thought this cookbook might just inspire me to don an apron and take out the wooden spoon.

Cookbooks, I suspect, are as much paged through for the yummy pictures as for the recipes. My first impression of the book was that it has a decidedly retro feel. The styling is abundantly generous and somewhat over the top – dare I say that it has a distinctly Johannesburg opulence to the look and feel. And I suppose there’s that Jewish mother’s overriding concern that there should be enough to eat – “better more than too little” would sum up the ethos.

Dividing the book up into the different holidays gives it a unique slant and also allows for some explanations about each festival. Lurie assumes that the reader is generally familiar with the significance of each festival and does not provide much context. The information is charming and anecdotal rather than truly informative. I thought this was a missed opportunity to provide some specific pointers that would have allowed the book to speak to a broader audience.

A concise explanation of the basics of kosher cooking would also have been useful. For instance it would explain the reason for non-dairy cream being consistently listed as an ingredient in meat dishes. In parenthesis I would suggest to Lurie that she looks at alternatives like soy milk and soy cream, which contain little or no additives as opposed to the brand of non dairy creamer that she seems predisposed to use.

The recipes themselves cover an impressive range, and yes – I might even be tempted to tackle a few. The point by point instructions are clear and seemingly uncomplicated and some accompanying tips add to one’s confidence in tackling the recipe in question. It adds a sense of the dish being tried and tested.

My cousin Adele, who is a meticulous follower of recipes, gave this book a thumbs-up. She looks forward to trying out several that titillated her palette. The Pickled Shabbat Salad, Granny Smiths’s Rib Roast and the Toffee Apple Pesach Cake were high on her to-do list. Now that’s a compliment from someone who knows – confirmed by the fact that she has added this book to her collection.
Reviewed for FMR BOOK CHOICE: April 2011..
Philip Todres is an obsessive collector of South African art. Philip ran Primart Gallery and still does freelance curatorial work. He can be heard doing interviews for the Cape Diary programme on Fine Music Radio. His company A & C Maps cc publishes the Arts & Crafts Map and an extensive range of special interest map guides, which can be viewed at www.mapsinfo.co.za.



Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher's Wife by Sharon Lurie

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Evita's BlackBessie by Evita Bezuidenhout
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 - Buitenverwachting Restaurant, Constantia
Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright
Friday, May 20th, 2011 - Catharina's at Steenberg
Little Liberia - An African Odyssey in New York by Jonny Steinberg
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 - Trinity, 15 Bennett Street, Green Point
Sometimes there is a Void - Memoirs of an Outsider by Zakes Mda
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 - Dieu Donne Restaurant, Franschhoek
The Killing Place by Tess Gerristen
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 - The Food Barn
MODERN WINERIES OF SOUTH AFRICA by Photographs by Craig Fraser, words by Hugh Fraser
Saturday, January 29th, 2011 - The Homestead, Dornier Wine Estate
Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
Saturday, December 4th, 2010 - Sevruga,V & A Waterfront