April 22, 1999
If Memory Serves…
The Spring Selection of Cookbooks
Oddly enough, there's a subtext to most of these books, and it has little to do with cooking. Many of them are only partly about good recipes; rather, they are more about good memories. They set about re-creating lost moments of a Jewish past, and found the most compelling way to do so was by writing about food. The People of the Book evidently does not live by words alone.
* In "A Drizzle of Honey" (St. Martin's, $29.95), authors David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson use diaries and other historical texts to uncover the traditions and recipes of 15th- and 16th-century Spain's Crypto-Jews -- Jews forced to convert to Catholicism who nevertheless preserved their Jewish traditions. The result is more fascinating as cultural history than it is useful as a cookbook, but the stories poignantly reveal how, by keeping food traditions alive, these Jews maintained their identity.