The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook

Schocken. May 2015. 256p. tr. from Yiddish by Eve Jochnowitz. illus. index. ISBN 9780805243277. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780805243284. COOKING
This translation of the first Yiddish-language vegetarian cookbook in Europe both pleases the palate and engages the mind and heart. Lewando was an early proponent and pioneer of Jewish vegetarian cooking; her 1938 cookbook was discovered in 2009 by volunteers in the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research book room. The foreword by Joan Nathan, together with an opening essay by her great-nephew, gives readers a picture of Lewando's life and work in the context of time and place. The recipes appear in narrative form and provide an outline of steps, so they're better suited to cooks with a basic command of cooking techniques than to absolute beginners. That said, important cues are provided and simply reading through the entire recipe beforehand should enable success with nearly any dish. The translator's preface provides important notes about conversions, equipment, and technique.
VERDICT A treasure for anyone interested in kosher vegetarian cooking, this recently rediscovered cookbook, published in Nazi-occupied Poland, resonates historically and as a poignant memorial to Lewando's life.
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