Friday, May 14, 2010

Budapest -- Eating Jewish

 Flodni advertised at Cafe Noe. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Here's a repost of an article I've written on  trends in Jewish eating in Budapest -- mentioning old classics (like the Fulemule restaurant and its six types of solet) as well as nouvelle places such as Koleves and Spinoza.

By Ruth Ellen Gruber (May 12, 2010)
BUDAPEST (JTA) -- Rahel Raj calls herself a 21st-century Yiddishe mama. The daughter of a rabbi and mother of a toddler, she and her family run a pair of popular Budapest bake shops that specialize in Jewish pastries such as flodni, a calorific confection of layered nuts, apple and poppy seeds that is one of the symbols of local Jewish cuisine.
"A modern Yiddishe mama is not someone who sits in a chair and says, 'Eat!,'" said Raj, a slim 29-year-old with long, dark hair. "I like to dress up, I have a profession, I have a baby -- but on Shabbat I serve a four-course Friday-night meal."
Raj is part of a burgeoning Jewish food scene in Budapest that’s making an impact on restaurant menus in the city and on the way Hungarian Jews eat at home. In addition to her pastry business, Raj writes a column for a local Jewish magazine and two years ago anchored a 10-part Jewish cooking series on a Hungarian TV food channel. On the show, Raj prepared dishes with several local Jewish cooks to demonstrate how old-style traditions now coexist with new forms of culinary practice, as Jews use food both to connect with their roots and reflect a contemporary Jewish lifestyle.
One of her guests was Andras Singer, whose award-winning Fulemule restaurant goes heavy on cholesterol-laden recipes handed down from his mother and grandmother. They include stuffed goose neck, chopped liver, spiced goose fat and six types of solet -- the Hungarian version of cholent, the slow-baked dish of beans and meat traditionally served on Shabbat.
But Raj also featured a young Jewish working mom who prefers to feed her family salads and Israeli favorites such as hummus and pita, which have become popular and easily available in Budapest in recent years thanks in part to an Israeli-run chain of hummus bars downtown.
Another guest was the influential Jewish food writer Eszter Bodrogi, who goes by the pen name Spicy Eszter. Bodrogi, who is in her late 30s, has helped spark new trends in Jewish at-home eating with a popular food blog and lavishly illustrated cookbook, "Spice and Soul."
Her message is that contemporary kosher (or kosher style) cooking can be elegant, easy, healthy and fun.
"Things are really different today," Raj said. "We want modern, lighter, quicker versions of the old traditional recipes -- using olive oil, for example, instead of goose fat. Or making gefilte fish with salmon, flavored with orange. Or instead of solet, maybe serving a barley risotto with smoked duck."
Read Full Article at JTA web site

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