It’s always fun to write about friends, and three fellow bloggers and friends and well-worth writing about right about now with Passover upon us. Friend of the ‘Rag Melody Elliot-Koontz (aka Melly), Eileen Makishima Thornton, and Shankari Easwaran, have been working their way for the last few months through the recipes of Marlena Spieler, a Sacramento native and world-renowned cookbook author. Specifically, they’ve been working on recipes from Spieler’s Jewish Cooking, a collection of over 100 Jewish recipes from all over the world.
They’ve been featured in the Bee, on the local networks, and the recipes have been used recently at the Oak Cafe at ARC. The whole project, called “Sundays With Marlena,” has not only highlighted the diversity and overall yumminess of Jewish food, but also the diversity and overall awesomeness in Sacramento. The local media have eaten up the diversity angle, what with folks whose ancestors came from India, and Japan, and England, getting together to cook Jewish food. But hey, why not?Â This is Sacramento after all, the self-proclaimed (and demographically backed-up) most diverse city in America. I just find it funny since I’m either too much a Sacramentan or too naive to have noticed the whole diversity angle in the first place. I just heard about my friends Melly and Shankari and Eileen getting together to cook great food and though, “Cool. Yummy.”
The other angle here is the whole idea of Jewish cooking getting some respect in foodie circles. (By the way, I’m really not a fan of the word “foodie” and try to use it as little as possible, but will probably use it at least twice more in this piece.) Spieler does a great job in Jewish Cooking of highlighting recipes that are more than the Eastern and Central European food that have been most closely associated with Jewish cooking in America. She reaches throughout the whole diaspora (is it OK to use that word when we’re talking about the modern Jewish worldwide population?) and grabs beautiful and delicious recipes from the Near and Far East, Southern Europe, and all points in between.Â Spieler herself is a great champion of Jewish cuisine, but it’s not her only passion, as she’s truly a global eater. As a Sacramento native she’s also truly a local treasure and we’re lucky to claim her as our own.Â Her writing has garnered her countless awards and commendations, her radio appearances are legendary, and her absolute passion for life, food, and family is something to behold.
I urge you to check out Melly’s blog , Shankari’s blog, and Eileen’s blog for great recipes, awesome stories, and lovely ladies. You can also go right to the source and check out Marlena Spieler’s books on Amazon, or check out her SF Chronicle column “Roving Feast” at http://www.sfgate.com.