1. First off, there’s Palwin. We start drinking that stuff pretty young.
It’s a special wine for blessings that tastes like sweets and cough mixture, and absolutely nothing like wine.
2. And as soon as we’re on solids, we get started on Bamba.
They’re an Israeli snack (basically peanut butter Wotsits), which may just be the best tasting cure for peanut allergies you’ll ever hear about.
3. And don’t even get me started on how much Jews love cheesecake.
Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah, is mostly about cheesecake. The best recipe, which involves curd cheese, sour cream, and a pastry base, is by Claudia Roden, but you can find a decent approximation here.
4. Of course, the best thing about cheesecake is that you have to try them all.
5. We also have a “my dinner lasted longer than your dinner” competition.
Otherwise known as Pesach, or Passover. It celebrates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, involves a lot of Matzah, and can go on late into the night. But better still, it provides a great excuse for fried fish in matzo meal, which you can try out here.
6. We’re also pretty big on wine.
Particularly on Purim, when you get dressed up and are commanded to get so drunk you don’t know the difference between the really good guy and the really bad guy in the Purim story. So just a typical Jewish night out really.
7. And we’re deeply committed to honeycake.
Thanks to Rosh Hashanah, or New Year. There’s a lot of debate about whose grandma has the best recipe, so you’ll have to try them all. My great-aunt swore by adding a cup of tea to hers. But whatever you do, read Victoria Prever’s take on it first.
8. Honestly, we even manage to make apples calorific.
To celebrate the sweetness of the New Year, we dip apples in honey. Actually, at New Year, we dip pretty much everything in honey.
9. And we have no shame about serving five different kinds of fish in one meal.
After fasting on Yom Kippur, you get to stuff yourself. In the Ashkenazi tradition, that means bagels, pickled cucumber spears and a lot of fish: smoked salmon, pickled herring, fried fish, and gefilte fish two ways: fried, and boiled.
10. We also love sufganiyot, round doughnuts.
At Chanukah we celebrate the miracle of oil lasting for eight days by eating loads of oily stuff. Don’t bother making your own, just head to Carmelli’s.
11. And latkes.
The secret to a great latke, which is a grated potato cake, is squeezing all the liquid out of the potatoes, many, many times over. And serving them with sour cream and apple sauce. Recipe here. You can mix things up with sweet potatoes, but do not believe the hype about adding beetroot — you will turn your hands, and kitchen, purple.
12. But nothing can beat the best bread ever: challah.
Challah’s not actually that difficult to make, so you’ll soon be able to start experimenting with chocolate chip challah, cinnamon and raisin challah, and orange and date challah. And once you’ve tried all those, don’t forget to make the stale stuff into the best French toast ever.
13. Obviously we love chicken soup. But we’ve worked out a way to make it carby.
Kneidlach! These dumplings, which are made of eggs and matzah meal, are a carby classic at every Shabbat dinner table. For lighter kniedlach, whisk your egg whites. Learn how, here.
14. And we love combining roast chicken with salt beef.
We can’t mix dairy and meat products, so we go for the culinary equivalent of double denim: double meat. The chicken can be cooked any way you like, but the beef must be brined, something that was originally done to draw out any blood, because it isn’t kosher. But now we just do it because it’s delicious. Learn how here.
15. And even though we can’t serve meat and dairy together, we have ice cream for dessert.
Parev (dairy free, meat free) ice cream, normally in the form of Swedish Glace, means that you can and will still have ice cream at the end of a meaty meal. Even if you’re full. Because your grandma would be offended if you didn’t.
16. We even eat right after synagogue on Saturday.
Kiddush includes smoked salmon, cream cheese dates, shots of whisky and red wine, fruit platters, assorted bridge rolls, and a nice cup of tea. Just before lunch. Ofc.
17. And no Kiddush is complete without lots of rogelach.
These are mini pastries filled with chocolate, cinnamon, apricot or plum, covered in an incredibly sticky glaze, and available at every kiddush and simcha ever. Recipe here.
18. Also imperative: mini bagel platters.
Rye, sesame and plain bagels, and tuna, cream cheese, chopped egg, and smoked salmon fillings? Check.
19. Also: cholent.
Cholent, a stew cooked overnight because we can’t cook on the Sabbath, is just not a health food. Every family has their own recipe, but fatty meat, potatoes, and dumplings always feature heavily. There’s a classic version here, but there are also plenty of vegetarian versions.
20. Even more importantly: shwarma.
Which kind of bread, pita or laffa, that is the question? If you go for a pitta, the toppings will end up everywhere. If you go for a laffa, which is much bigger, you’ll fit loads in, and end up eating half the salad bar. Either way, it’s all got humous on top, so it’s basically a health food. And don’t even get me started on all the other toppings, Israeli salad, tahini, roasted aubergines, spicy sauce, ten different kinds of pickles. Find Ottolenghi’s chicken schwarma recipe here.
21. Sometimes we attempt to be healthy. For those moments, there’s Ten Acre.
Their fennel and lemon popcorn is my happy place, and it should be yours too.
22. From there it’s all downhill, via Pizaza pesto fries.
Or maybe chili fries? With a pizza with double cheese. And then a chocolate pizza? Fine a recipe for pesto fries here.
23. Or even worse/better: a salted beef sandwich.
Calories: one million. Find a recipe here.
24. And no matter how stuffed you are, you finish off everything with a Bendicks’ mint.
Just because you’re Jewish.