Food & Drink

She brings together the world’s Jewish food. Renowned cookbook author comes to Columbia

In 1994, Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America” won the coveted James Beard Award for best American cookbook and the Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. Her 2010 cookbook “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France” was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of that year by NPR, Food and Wine and Bon Appétit magazines. She hosted a cooking show on PBS and is a regular contributor to The New York Times and Tablet Magazine. With 11 cookbooks published, the accolades and accomplishments keep going. She’s garnered the recognition by bringing together recipes of Jewish culture from the past with their modern descendants.

Nathan will bring her recipes and insights to Columbia for a talk about the food culture she helps keep alive. The event is put together by Historic Columbia and the History Center at the University of South Carolina. It takes place Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. at Beth Shalom Synagogue on Trenholm Road. Nathan’s talk will be followed by a reception that features Jewish recipes of the South from her cookbooks, a news release said.

“Joan Nathan has traveled the globe, researching, studying and experiencing the ways in which food shapes and reflects history and culture – from planting and cultivation, preparations and family traditions to the migrations that have longed shaped human life and history,” said Dr. Patricia Sullivan of USC’s History Center. “Her magnificent, award-winning books bring this history into our lives and onto our tables.”

Nathan’s talk is in conjunction with Historic Columbia’s Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative, which “documents the stories of the Jewish population in South Carolina’s capital city,” and Kugels & Collards, a project that “explores the relationship of Jewish and Southern cooking traditions and the stories of that intersection.”

Rachel Barnett, co-founder of Kugels & Collards, said Nathan’s cooking ties together cuisine and history, an accomplishment that’s earned her the title “the doyenne of Jewish cooking.”

“When Kugels & Collards was launched, our hope was to expand on the history of the Jewish community in Columbia using Jewish cooking to engage family stories and history,” said Barnett. “(Nathan’s) expertise and perspective will surely add to the already robust conversations we’ve begun through the Kugels & Collards project.”

Nathan’s latest cookbook, 2017’s “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World,” was described in Tablet Magazine as “a dizzying, exhilarating ride through the myriad kitchens and countries that collectively tell the story of global Jewish cuisine.”

“Nathan travels from ancient Babylon to the present day, introducing readers to the sweet-and-sour stuffed grape leaves made by a Persian woman living in Los Angeles, the spicy chocolate rugelach baked by a Mexican-Jewish chef with Ashkenazi roots, and a fragrant carrot salad cooked on an Israeli moshav by Jews originally hailing from India,” food writer Leah Koenig said.

“I would always look for the familiar in the unfamiliar,” Nathan once said of the Jewish food she seeks in the world.

For more information on Joan Nathan appearance in Columbia, visit Historic Columbia’s site.

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.