Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tasting the Torah

I have a confession. I am a cookbook-aholic. I don't know how many I have - more than three bookshelves worth...probably more than four. I love cookbooks. I read them, I scan them, I devour them. I am an expert, at least for what works for me.

I want pictures! The first time I made a lemon meringue pie, I did it from a cookbook, working blind. I followed the instructions, mixed the ingredients, cooked it, stirred it, baked it. And then, when it came out partially brown, partially white on top, I said to my mother in disappointment, "oh, look at it."

And she answered, "That's the way it is supposed to look!"

So I cut her a piece and I took a piece for myself. "Oh, that's weird," I told my  mother.

And she answered, "That's exactly how it is supposed to taste!" She loves lemon meringue pie! I learned that day two things - one, I don't like lemon meringue pie so much and two, I really like a cookbook that shows you how to the thing is supposed to look like at the end.

In my never-ending quest for the perfect cookbook, I came across Aviv Harkov's A Taste of Torah. Wow.
It has everything I could want in a cookbook, and more. The design of the book is nothing less than brilliant! It has 54 recipes, one for every Torah portion of the week (in Hebrew, a parsha) that is read throughout the year. Each recipe comes with a picture!!! And details how to create it, and then something also includes a "Dvar Torah" - a small lesson that can be shared at the Shabbat table. And wait, it isn't finished, it also has what it calls a short "bedtime" story - another example of the lesson being taught in th weekly parsha.

You can't imagine the thought that went into this book - both in terms of content and design. It is stunning but more, it is so incredibly usable. From the first page, I knew I was in love! My family loves "black and white cookies" - these were a favorite in the US before we moved to Israel and whenever we find them here, we grab them up. In this wonderful cookbook, Harkov shares the recipe and a picture, and then he does something even more special. These cookies, writes Harkov, "show how light and darkness can be separated in a delicious way." And then, this theme is picked up in the Dvar Torah, which speaks of how God separated light and darkness during creation. Finally, the entry concludes with a story from the former Soviet Union. Light and darkness, and lovely cookies.

As for lemon meringue pie, Harkov offers a recipe, a picture and a story. He likens the meringue to "the cloud covering theTent of Meeting."

I can't wait to get started - cooking around the year and learning so much. This is a cookbook I am going to love for a long, long time!

If you want to learn more about the book - click the link on the left side.

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