When I lived in Jerusalem in the 1970s, working as foreign press attaché for Teddy Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem, we would seek out good food in East Jerusalem’s restaurants. The best ones in West Jerusalem were mostly for tourists, ersatz Italian or French or hotel restaurants that were known for their boiled chicken and Eastern European, overcooked Jewish food. As Henry Kissinger, on a trip to the city, said, “In a country with 2 1/2 million Jewish mothers, you’d think the food would be better.”
Joan Nathan says she's always had a particular fascination with French Jews and their food. For Nathan, author of "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France (Knopf, 2010), the love affair with French cuisine started as a teenager when she made her first trip to France in the 1950s. The prolific cookbook author says the simple pleasure of sampling a slightly melted bar of chocolate sandwiched into a crackly baguette transformed her life.
The first time I ever spoke to Joan Nathan, it was by telephone, and I wrote out for myself what I wanted to say to her: “Hello, Ms. Nathan, this is Rob Eshman with The Jewish Journal in Los Angeles, and I want to speak with you about your new cookbook. I think you should know that ‘Jewish Holiday Kitchen’ is my Bible.”
Author and Jewish food connoisseur Joan Nathan may be best known for her award-winning cookbooks on Jewish cuisine in America and Israel. But long before any of those projects began, there was Paris.
The namesake of the famous company Sara Lee discusses her father's early expeierments with cheesecake and how he decided to name the company he founded after her. From Jewish Cooking In America with Joan Nathan.
"I never think of food as something that's stationary," Nathan said on a recent book tour stop in Los Angeles. "Things change, neighborhoods change, food changes, we get new ingredients, people get ideas. And when you come to a country you adapt what you knew to that country."