The First Hungarian Jewish Cookbooks

In 1854, the Judeo-German Nayes folshtendiges kokhbukh fir di yidishe kikhe (“A New Complete Cookbook of the Jewish Cuisine”)—was published in Pest, but printed in Vienna. Although this was the first cookbook ever to be published in Hebrew characters, it was not the first Jewish cookbook, a distinction which probably belongs to the 1815 Kochbuch für Israeliten, authored by the non-Jewish private chef of the grand duke of Baden. Such information, and much else, can be found in Andras Koerner’s Early Jewish Cookbooks: Essays on Hungarian Jewish Gastronomical History. Avery Robinson writes in his review:

In 1895, Adolf Ágai wrote an article in the Jewish weekly Egyenlőség (Equality) in which he waxes rhapsodic about Jewish foods. Ágai (1836–1916)—one of the most popular Hungarian Jewish editors, satirists, and journalists of the fin-de-siècle—seems to offer a late-19th-century version of “bagel and lox Judaism.” His paean to the Jewish kitchen longingly describes traditional dishes—a variety of cholents and kugels, ganef (kugel’s primordial cousin, a simple cholent dumpling)—and kosher versions of Hungarian dishes, such as vadas nyúl, hare cooked in a cream sauce that evolved into an “Easter lamb” cooked in an “emulsion of almonds” playing in for the sour cream.

Less than a year later, Egyenlőség’s editor Samu Haber (1865–1922) published his own reflections on Hungarian Jewish foods, extolling “the cult of cholent,” describing the dish’s popularity among non-Jewish Hungarians dining on Budapest’s posh Andrássy Boulevard. Beyond the non-Jewish adoration for Ashkenazi Sabbath stews (sold in restaurants outside of ḥasidic enclaves!), Haber lauds ganef, apple kugel, fish cooked in a walnut sauce, and flódni (a pastry that has become symbolic of 21st-century Hungarian Jewry), among other Jewish Hungarian foods.

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Hungarian Jewry, Jewish food, Jewish history


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy