Ariel Toaff adds a rather eccentric, but surprisingly interesting chapter to the social history of food. Jewish cooking is based on religious laws according to which certain foodstuffs cannot be eaten and food has to be prepared in a certain way (for example particular methods for slaughtering meat). Apart from the religious laws, Jewish cooking has its own traditions and these are the object of Toaff's study. By referring to numerous original documents such as letters, dictionaries, cook books and recipes he describes the food and drink that could be found on the dinner table: wine, meat, cheese, fish, cakes and puddings as well as the recipe for goose (the "Pork of the Jews"). He then goes on to reconstruct the Jewish kitchen and the habits of Jews at the dinner table, on special occasions and during the Carneval of Purim. This new, thoroughly revised edition adds an interesting appendix with more than sixty original recipes.
Ariel Toaff is Professor Emeritus at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.