Jewish Food for the Summer

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In the winter I never have any trouble planning Shabbat and holiday menus. Many of the most basic and quintessential Jewish foods–brisket, kugel, matzah ball soup, babka–are perfect for a blustery day in November, or a snow-day in February, but come the sticky humid heat of June, July and August, and I find it hard to locate Jew-y recipes that seem temperature-appropriate.

There are two obvious solutions here. First, abandon all pretense of making something Jewish, and just make something delicious. When it’s 95F in the kitchen, I don’t think any of my Shabbat guests are going to complain that gazpacho is Spanish, and there haven’t been Jews living in Spain since, oh, that pesky inquisition. They’ll just be grateful I didn’t make a hot soup.

The other solution is to spend the entire summer cooking Israeli food. There are many Jewish communities from very hot parts of the world (Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, etc) but somehow I find that food from these communities is still too heavy for me in the summer. Israelis, though, know their hot weather food, and now when I want to make something for Shabbat I find myself thinking about what my friends are probably eating in Jerusalem and Haifa and Be’er Sheva and making that. If I need some Israeli inspiration, I head to our Israeli food section, or open up Janna Gur’s gorgeous The Book of New Israeli Food. Those pictures will get your mouth watering no matter what season it is.

Hm. Now I want some gazpacho and falafel.

Posted on July 19, 2010

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9 thoughts on “Jewish Food for the Summer

  1. Pedro Shimon Ben-Armon i Maresma

    Sephardim or Spanish Jews have always been in Spain only quietly. My Family left for France for a 50 year period came back and remained Jews in Barcelona and Majorca. We have many summer dishes in our culinary repertoire. I have never eaten Kugel, Matzo Ball soup or Tzimmes these dishes are not part of our culture. Sephardim don’t look at these dishes as Jewish and we eat rice at Pesach because we come from the Mediterranean and Mizrahia.

  2. k

    Well, I still love my cholent and I serve it with rice. I love having fun in mixing Sephardic and Ashkenizic foods. A rice cooker comes in very handy and I like Nishiki (pronounced neeshkee) because it is Kosher and a Japanese style rice that I love. Faye Levy’s “1000 Jewish Recipes” is a fantastic book and a walk around the world with all kinds of information about what region and/or family member. At $35.00 it is 35 cents per recipe. That is a great deal for all the fabulous dishes she makes. Well worth the money. Then there is Arthur Schwartz’s ” “Jewish Home Cooking, Yiddish Recipes Revisited.” Once again, great recipes. If you want to find both Sephardic and Ashkenizic Ms. Levy’s book will set your taste buds in “delicious” mode. Happy Shabbos. K

  3. Carole Lawrence

    I find it interesting that is discussing Shabbot food for summer in Israel you don’t mention cold fruit soup – very popular in Israel and perfect for warm weather. Basically it is like stewed fruit using honey instead of sugar and citrus juice (orange or lemon). If the meal is dairy, cream can be added to the soup.

  4. Terri Schecter Berman

    I always enjoy your articles. So proud to say “I knew you when…”

  5. Fivel ben Schlema

    And let’s not forget Schav. My Grandmother used to make it in the Bronx. she used to tease me that she would go to the park to collect grass for the soup.

    it was always excellent served cold, and if I was really good, I would get it with a healthy(?) dollop of sour cream.

  6. k

    I believe I must correct my math in Faye Levy’s Book “1000 Jewish Recipes” because each recipe would be .035 cents per in that fabulous book. 35 cents would cost 350 dollars, rather pricey for “even if it is a fabulous cookbook… cookbook. Right after I hit “enter” as in send to the blog, I realized that my math was wrong. Suffice it to say, I love that we as people with different likes and dislikes in food, for me if it is kosher it stands a lot better to reason that I will like it, except for sweet gefilte fish! :) K

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