December 6, 2010

New ÒEncyclopedia of Jewish FoodÓ by Gil Marks Takes Kosher on an Incredible Cultural Journey

New York…Cholent, the traditional hot stew served on Shabbat in observant homes, is actually a French word that had its origin in the 11th century. The bagel was first mentioned in 1610 in the records of the Krakow Jewish community. The babka had its origin in Poland in the early 19th century. The kebab has its origin in Persia and Turkey. These are some of the remarkable findings of an unprecedented “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food” (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) by Gil Marks, the award winning author, lecturer, and author of several cookbooks. Marks is a recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award for his Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World (Wiley 2004). The 656-page encyclopedia includes hundreds of kosher foods, tracing their origin to Jewish communities throughout the diasporan experience and offering authentic recipes for each of the categories. Many chefs and other professionals in the kosher food industry consider the new Encyclopedia a trailblazing event that gives kosher an edge over any other food category. Said one chef: “It isn’t everyday that you get to read about kosher foods and live through the 3000-year Jewish experience as well.” He adds, “Remarkably, you begin to realize that these foods as have their cultures survived persecution, pogroms and even a Holocaust.”

In 1986, Marks combined his interests in food, history, Judaism, and writing to become founding editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine, a position he held for six years. After leaving Kosher Gourmet, Marks turned his attention to writing fiction and biblical research as well as continuing his work on culinary subjects. His efforts include two plays, Therapist, and, in collaboration with Stanley Allan Sherman, The Golem of Gavah. His other books are The World of Jewish Desserts (Simon & Schuster, September 2000) and The World of Jewish Entertaining (Simon & Schuster, 1998) and he was also among the international team of contributors to the prestigious Meals in Science and Practice: Interdisciplinary Research and Business Applications (Woodhead Publishing, 2009). Marks has also written articles for numerous magazines; served as a guest lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America, Hazon, Kosherfest, and Drisha Institute; acted as consultant for various companies and organizations; and given presentations throughout the world, including the 92nd Street Y, Macy’s DeGustibus cooking school, The Learning Annex, the Kislak Adult Center, and the Fresh Start Program at New York’s Rikers Island. Marks continues to write, research, lecture, and perform cooking demonstrations for groups across the country and make appearances on various television and radio programs.