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The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Rediscovered and Adapted for Today's Kitchen

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Beautifully translated for a new generation of devotees of delicious and healthy eating:  a groundbreaking, mouthwatering vegetarian cookbook originally published in Yiddish in pre–World War II Vilna and miraculously rediscovered more than half a century later.  In 1938, Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania, published a Yiddis Beautifully translated for a new generation of devotees of delicious and healthy eating:  a groundbreaking, mouthwatering vegetarian cookbook originally published in Yiddish in pre–World War II Vilna and miraculously rediscovered more than half a century later.  In 1938, Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania, published a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook unlike any that had come before. Its 400 recipes ranged from traditional Jewish dishes (kugel, blintzes, fruit compote, borscht) to vegetarian versions of Jewish holiday staples (cholent, kishke, schnitzel) to appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts that introduced vegetables and fruits that had not traditionally been part of the repertoire of the Jewish homemaker (Chickpea Cutlets, Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Leek Frittata; Apple Charlotte with Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs). Also included were impassioned essays by Lewando and by a physician about the benefits of vegetarianism. Accompanying the recipes were lush full-color drawings of vegetables and fruit that had originally appeared on bilingual (Yiddish and English) seed packets. Lewando's cookbook was sold throughout Europe.  Lewando and her husband died during World War II, and it was assumed that all but a few family-owned and archival copies of her cookbook vanished along with most of European Jewry. But in 1995 a couple attending an antiquarian book fair in England came upon a copy of Lewando's cookbook. Recognizing its historical value, they purchased it and donated it to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City, the premier repository for books and artifacts relating to prewar European Jewry. Enchanted by the book's contents and by its backstory, YIVO commissioned a translation of the book that will make Lewando's charming, delicious, and practical recipes available to an audience beyond the wildest dreams of the visionary woman who created them. With a foreword by Joan Nathan. Full-color illustrations throughout. Translated from the Yiddish by Eve Jochnowitz.


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Beautifully translated for a new generation of devotees of delicious and healthy eating:  a groundbreaking, mouthwatering vegetarian cookbook originally published in Yiddish in pre–World War II Vilna and miraculously rediscovered more than half a century later.  In 1938, Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania, published a Yiddis Beautifully translated for a new generation of devotees of delicious and healthy eating:  a groundbreaking, mouthwatering vegetarian cookbook originally published in Yiddish in pre–World War II Vilna and miraculously rediscovered more than half a century later.  In 1938, Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania, published a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook unlike any that had come before. Its 400 recipes ranged from traditional Jewish dishes (kugel, blintzes, fruit compote, borscht) to vegetarian versions of Jewish holiday staples (cholent, kishke, schnitzel) to appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts that introduced vegetables and fruits that had not traditionally been part of the repertoire of the Jewish homemaker (Chickpea Cutlets, Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Leek Frittata; Apple Charlotte with Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs). Also included were impassioned essays by Lewando and by a physician about the benefits of vegetarianism. Accompanying the recipes were lush full-color drawings of vegetables and fruit that had originally appeared on bilingual (Yiddish and English) seed packets. Lewando's cookbook was sold throughout Europe.  Lewando and her husband died during World War II, and it was assumed that all but a few family-owned and archival copies of her cookbook vanished along with most of European Jewry. But in 1995 a couple attending an antiquarian book fair in England came upon a copy of Lewando's cookbook. Recognizing its historical value, they purchased it and donated it to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City, the premier repository for books and artifacts relating to prewar European Jewry. Enchanted by the book's contents and by its backstory, YIVO commissioned a translation of the book that will make Lewando's charming, delicious, and practical recipes available to an audience beyond the wildest dreams of the visionary woman who created them. With a foreword by Joan Nathan. Full-color illustrations throughout. Translated from the Yiddish by Eve Jochnowitz.

30 review for The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Rediscovered and Adapted for Today's Kitchen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I happened to see this vegetarian cookbook on the new books shelf at the library and quickly picked it up, not having any idea the history, tragedy, and intelligence of the author. Fania Lewando lived in a vibrant Jewish community in Lithuania prior to the second world war. She was a devoted vegetarian who taught many others the art of cooking and living a vegetarian lifestyle. She also ran a popular restaurant, which drew in many notable visitors and was known for both the healthy food and as a I happened to see this vegetarian cookbook on the new books shelf at the library and quickly picked it up, not having any idea the history, tragedy, and intelligence of the author. Fania Lewando lived in a vibrant Jewish community in Lithuania prior to the second world war. She was a devoted vegetarian who taught many others the art of cooking and living a vegetarian lifestyle. She also ran a popular restaurant, which drew in many notable visitors and was known for both the healthy food and as a center of intellectual thought and discussion. In 1938, she published this cookbook in Yiddish, written in the style and fashion as she taught and worked in her restaurant. It was beautifully illustrated with the colorful, whimsical drawings of vegetable seed packets. In June,1941, the Nazis entered Vilna, and Fania Lewando and her husband were never seen again. The tragedy of losing this brilliant woman who cared so much about living in a healthy way and devoted herself to teaching these skills to other woman touched me deeply. I felt I got to know her through her recipes. She cooked with the bounty of the earth around her, making savoury broths, baked dishes, stews, breads, and even desserts with what she had available. Turnips, apples, potatoes, cabbages, roots, butter, eggs, milk, cream, and sugar abound. She turned them into a myriad of dishes, never wasting anything. She made her own preserves and wines. She tells us how to preserve eggs in a barrel in the cellar in order to have eggs all winter....be sure to buy large eggs in the spring when they are readily available. Full of wisdom and life. I am so deeply saddened by how her life ended. The notes from the guest book are equally sad, seeing how many of the Jewish intellectuals who visited there also died around the same time. Some thankfully escaped. Praise to those who found her cookbook, translated it, added notes for today's cooks, and created such a lovely memorial to an outstanding woman.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    This book is for people like me who read cookbooks like novels, or history. The recipes themselves are besides the point. Take your vegetable, add tons of eggs, coat in bread crumbs, fry in butter, top with lots of cream. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Doesn't matter, you're here for the culture. To understand this book, you need to start with the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts. An incredible resource dedicated to saving Yiddish books from around the globe. The foun This book is for people like me who read cookbooks like novels, or history. The recipes themselves are besides the point. Take your vegetable, add tons of eggs, coat in bread crumbs, fry in butter, top with lots of cream. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Doesn't matter, you're here for the culture. To understand this book, you need to start with the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts. An incredible resource dedicated to saving Yiddish books from around the globe. The founder literally started by rescuing books from dumpsters. Vilna Vegetarian was one of the rare volumes they rescued. And one from a growing program to translate these books so that they aren't just museum relics but living, breathing, works. Fania Lewando was a well-known vegetarian kosher chef in 1930's Lithuania, who traveled all over Europe, America, and beyond teaching and feeding people. This cookbook came out of her Vilna restaurant. Despite her travels, she was in Lithuania when it was too late to get out and she and her husband were murdered in the Holocaust. This is her legacy. All that being said, this really is a cookbook. The translator tested every recipe and includes modern information in brackets. You can make every dish in the book. And they're fascinating. Many are old time classics and others are just Fania Lewando.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    I love historical cookbooks, and this one is personal as it is Jewish and vegetarian. The recipes are incredibly "old world" but I can see myself trying most of them, and a few of them might become regulars in my cooking. But simply reading through all of these recipes and what vegetarians used to eat is fascinating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Philip Reiter

    Some interesting vegetarian recipes, but mush repetition also. Not as impressed as the blurb advertising the book on the Jewish Book Group.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Albright

    I first heard about this cookbook from an article on The Splendid Table. http://www.splendidtable.org/story/fi... This book intrigued me...so when I discovered I could get a second hand copy on Amazon for a very reasonable price, I bought it. This cookbook deserves to be read twice. First, as a historical document. You need to read the beginning articles to fully appreciate the VALUE of this cookbook. Fania Lewando's insights about food, health and her Jewish culture are spelled out there. The rea I first heard about this cookbook from an article on The Splendid Table. http://www.splendidtable.org/story/fi... This book intrigued me...so when I discovered I could get a second hand copy on Amazon for a very reasonable price, I bought it. This cookbook deserves to be read twice. First, as a historical document. You need to read the beginning articles to fully appreciate the VALUE of this cookbook. Fania Lewando's insights about food, health and her Jewish culture are spelled out there. The reader also gets a delicious insight to a specific place and time that almost was wiped off. The second read is strictly for the recipes. The reader will see immediately this isn't your typical cookbook. This is like finding your grandmother's secret recipe box. Once you open it, you don't see a set list of ingredients then the instructions. You see a paragraph that instructs you to take some of this, add this, mix it then cook/bake/fry until done. The translators and food historians here wanted the reader to get the core of what Fania Lewando was all about. Cooking is practical...and it takes practice to know how to make something. Truth is, when you make a recipe from this cookbook, you are doing something more than just recreating a recipe...you are keeping a small piece of history alive. Now...to check out the cauliflower cutlets...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marija Jure

    I really liked this book – not only recipes but also a very nice introduction. I recommend it to everyone. And also great gift idea.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sternberg

    Because I grew up in an Eastern European Yiddish speaking home, I was excited to get this book. However, I found it to be extremely disappointing. Despite the fact that the translators of this book claim to have tested all the recipes before publishing it in English, and despite the fact that the recipe tester(s) even inserted a few notes regarding some of the recipes, I found an overwhelming majority of the recipes to be very poor in quality. The texture of many of the recipes is mushy and over Because I grew up in an Eastern European Yiddish speaking home, I was excited to get this book. However, I found it to be extremely disappointing. Despite the fact that the translators of this book claim to have tested all the recipes before publishing it in English, and despite the fact that the recipe tester(s) even inserted a few notes regarding some of the recipes, I found an overwhelming majority of the recipes to be very poor in quality. The texture of many of the recipes is mushy and overly soft, bearing little to no resemblance to the similar dishes prepared in my own home, which were generally delicious. I tried out many of the recipes myself and found them to be sorely lacking-- inferior in texture and additionally sometimes rather bland in flavor. As I worked through the recipes, even varying the quantities of some of the ingredients to see if I could improve on the result, I almost always failed to achieve anything credible or tasty. I wondered whether the rave reviews given to the food served in Mrs. Lewando's restaurant by members of the Yiddish intellectual elite in Vilna may have been due to the fact that the dishes prepared by Mrs. Lewando in her restaurant differed greatly from those presented in her recipe book. A few of the recipes listed as soups actually made me laugh hysterically. In my childhood home, if I got sick, be it a cold, an upset stomach, the flu or even a headache there were certain dishes I was always forced to consume. These were among the most vile tasting foods I had ever encountered-- rice with milk, noodles (lokshen) with milk, on Passover matzo balls (kneydlekh) with milk and the most awful one of all, cream of wheat cooked in nothing but milk (called grayplekh in Yiddish). These along with copious quantities of tea, the national beverage of Eastern European Jews, rounded out the menu of "sick foods" in my childhood home. These execrable concoctions actually DID have one real curative effect. They made me almost obsessive about doing all I could to avoid ever getting sick and having to stay home and ingest these awful foods. I could not stop myself from laughing when I discovered EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE DISHES in Mrs. Lewando's cookbook-- except that in her restaurant, these dishes were considered "soups"! One disease I did not list above was constipation. In case you are wondering how THIS disease was cured in my childhood home--- better DON"T ASK!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I need to buy my own copy of this, because the library is going to want theirs back. This is a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook from 1938, written by the proprietor of a milchik restaurant. The poignancy of the history is intense. I realized re-rereading the introduction today that the abbreviation (in English letters) hyd meant "may God avenge her blood," and it make me choke up a little. Contrasting that sorrow over a lost world is the hilarious richness of some of the recipes. There is just as muc I need to buy my own copy of this, because the library is going to want theirs back. This is a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook from 1938, written by the proprietor of a milchik restaurant. The poignancy of the history is intense. I realized re-rereading the introduction today that the abbreviation (in English letters) hyd meant "may God avenge her blood," and it make me choke up a little. Contrasting that sorrow over a lost world is the hilarious richness of some of the recipes. There is just as much sour cream as you are imagining there will be. You can also imagine the general enticement of imagining making these. The almond cake with a dozen eggs, the radish eigemachts (that's jam. Radishes cooked in honey jam) and the stewed potatoes filled with dried mushrooms--I would need several days, that's all.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Viriam

    Much more interesting as a historical book than as a cookbook. The fact it was translated from Yiddish gives it cred, and that it was a leading health book for jewish culture is fascinating. The dishes, however, disappoint.

  10. 4 out of 5

    S Roberta

    The story behind this cookbook is fascinating and the illustrations go well with the old-fashioned theme. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I'm sure I will in the future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    As a cookbook, the recipes here seem overwhelmingly rich and/or plain, though by that I don't mean therefore useless -- there are certainly things I'd try. As a book of history, though, this is excellent.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Oscar

    A great historical document and also a great resource for new veggie recipes. My routine has been getting fairly staid, but trying things like rhubarb soup and blintzes with the many fillings Fania Lewando dreams up has been great fun.

  13. 5 out of 5

    The Jewish Book Council

    Review by Danièle Gorlin Lassner for the Jewish Book Council. Review by Danièle Gorlin Lassner for the Jewish Book Council.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    This is both interesting from an historical perspective, and full of recipes I'd like to try.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Very interesting historical cookbook and the illustrations are lovely!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pam G

    What an incredible find after being lost for decades. I'll have to try a few recipes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carly

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denise

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan Waggoner

  23. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lorenzi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ludmirska

  26. 5 out of 5

    elizabeth

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  29. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  30. 4 out of 5

    Therese

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