"I WILL FIRST ENDEAVOR TO GIVE SOME INFORMATION AS TO THE MANNER OF STRICTLY KEEPING A JEWISH HOUSE": Rare First Edition of The First Jewish Cookbook Printed in America
Jewish Cookery Book, on Principles of Economy, Adapted for Jewish Housekeepers, with the Addition of Many Useful Medicinal Recipes, and Other Valuable Information, Relative to Housekeeping and Domestic Management.
Item Number: 74060
Philadelphia: W.S. Turner, 1871.
Rare first edition of the first Jewish cookbook published in America, with extensive instructions on keeping a kosher household in addition to recipes. Octavo, original cloth. In very good condition, rebacked. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. First editions are exceptionally scarce of this milestone in American Jewish history.
The introductory sections provide an overview of kosher dining, household economy, and table-setting. Later sections include household tips ("to cement broken china," "to revive the color of black silk"), lists of seasonable foods by month, and a two-page summary of the Jewish calendar. A longer section titled "Hints for Housekeepers" suggests a weekly routine in detail. For Sunday dinner, Levy points out that "this is the day the husbands are at home, then something good must be prepared in honor of the lords of the household." Most of the book consists of recipes, as expected, including some classics from Jewish cuisine. Macaroons, matzo cleis soup, German kouglauff (kugel), grimslechs (chremslachs), and "potato souffle, for Passover." Some recipes have apparently been adapted from American neighbors, such as macaroni, hominy fritters, and "ochre soup, or gumbo," which is reported to be "much used in the South." Throughout, Levy's recipes are more impressionistic than scientific (pepper pot soup: "in a pint and a half of water, put such vegetables as you wish . . . cut them very small and stew them with a couple of pounds of mutton and a piece of nice beef"), and the requirements of kashrut are strongly emphasized. "This book offers us a vivid look into the daily lives of the American Jewish community just before the period of its most rapid growth… In the recipes, you can see the dynamic between the requirements of keeping kosher, the cultural traditions brought over from Europe, and the American ingredients at hand, but it's also rich in detail on the day-to-day management of a 19th-century Jewish household. It's an interesting and important cultural document" (Rick Stattler, The New York Jewish Week). Only one copy listed in OCLC.