Introduction

Introduction

By
Gaye Weeden, Hayley Smorgon, Natalie King
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
1740662865
Photographer
Mark Roper

Records show that at least seven Jews arrived in Botany Bay with the First Fleet in 1788. Among them was Esther Abrahams, who had been tried at the Old Bailey for stealing lace valued at fifty shillings. Arrested when she was in her teens and pregnant, Esther gave birth to a daughter in Newgate prison. She was sentenced to seven years and left England soon afterwards. While on the journey to Australia with her daughter, she formed a liaison with Lieutenant George Johnston, then aged twenty-three. Johnston would become a leading player in the events of the colony, suppressing revolts and rebellions, and eventually declaring himself Lieutenant Governor. Esther Abrahams would become the First Lady of New South Wales.

the story of Esther’s journey to Australia is a tale of exile, migration and resettlement. And it is not unfamiliar: there are numerous tales of separation and loss, accounts of miracles and tragedy, from those who have formed the Jewish Diaspora in Australia. Th is book contains twenty-one such stories, from as many countries, giving a fascinating account of Jewish migration to Australia. But the common thread in this collection is the telling of how food and flavours fill the Jewish home with love, how food has always been a source of sustenance, joy and togetherness. Today, the act of cooking is not just a physical process; it represents the passion that bonds each cook to their homeland and ancestry. Here is an indelible link to the past and the future: a culinary voyage.

Jewish festivals are celebrated with feasts and customs. Th e Sabbath – the Jewish day of rest and spiritual rejuvenation – begins on Friday at sunset, ushered into the home with the lighting of candles and the blessing of wine and bread. A festive meal follows. In Australia, we are fortunate to have multicultural influences on our Jewish cuisine as people from all corners of the globe have settled here, bringing their Jewish culinary skills and influences that range from the impeccable presentation of Japanese cuisine to the abundance of mezze-style Iraqi food.

Many of the cooks featured in this book prepare their dishes from memory, so participating in this project gave them a unique opportunity to transcribe their time-honoured heritage while telling personal tales of displacement and reunion, separation and celebration. Each cook prepared signature dishes and welcomed us into their home to share precious food as well as memories, laughter, tears and captivating stories. In doing so, every one of them has opened their hearts and doors for a wider audience of food lovers, generously sharing their traditions. Balancing flavour, texture, colour and ingredients, each cook draws on culinary traditions that have evolved over centuries, passed down through families and adapted to contemporary Australian life.

Some dishes are simple, made from the freshest ingredients, while others are complex and elaborate. Th ere is the spicy fragrance of Indian curry, the sumptuousness of Sephardi couscous and the now legendary chicken soup and gefilte fish from Ashkenazi cooking. We have also included the unique cuisines of ethnic groups such as Bukhara, with its cholent inventively cooked in a bag, and the organic, healthy food of Georgia. As you explore the following pages, we hope you will savour this delectable and inspiring journey.

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