World Chefs: Cookbook preserves warm memories of dark times

Tue Jul 5, 2011 9:47am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - First-time author June Feiss Hersh likes to say her book is neither a storybook with recipes nor a cookbook with stories.

"Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival," which unites 80 stories of holocaust survivors to 175 of their cherished family recipes, is her effort to keep both from fading into history.

An avid cook, Hersh interviewed families from Poland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Greece for the book, whose proceeds benefit the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

When food memories failed celebrity chefs Jonathan Waxman and Daniel Boulud and 24 other culinary professionals pitched in by contributing their own recipes.

Hersh, 56, spoke to Reuters about kosher food, family lore, and the challenges of recreating recipes prepared with "shitterlyne," a Yiddish word, meaning, literally "without a recipe, or idiomatically, "a little of this, a little of that."

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: "At a time when these Eastern European accents are beginning to fade and we're losing this generation, I wanted to try to capture their stories in a positive and uplifting way, from a perspective of food and happy childhood memories."

Q: How did you find these recipes?   Continued...

<p>"Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival" auhor June Feiss Hersh in an August 2010 photo. REUTERS/Allison Hersh Gordon/Handout</p>