Lot 158
  • 158

Jewish Cookery Book, Esther Levy, Philadelphia: W.S. Turner, 1871

6,000 - 8,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paper, Ink, Cloth
(6  7/8  x 4½ in.; 175 x 115 mm). Errata slip bound before title, 200 pages with 10 pages of advertising bound at end; additional handwritten recipes on endpapers and added loose sheets. Publisher's dark brown pebbled cloth with blindstamped frame and arabesques stamped at four corners, gilt-stamped title and imprint on spine; front board starting; minor losses to backstrip at head and foot and at corners and edges.

Catalogue Note

The first Jewish cookbook published in America

When it was first published in 1871, this remarkable cookbook offered practical advice for American-born Jews "without benefit of a traditional ethnic education." Mrs. Esther Levy attempted to demonstrate that fine dining could be achieved while still adhering to the laws of kashrut. Indeed, in her introduction Mrs. Levy pointedly notes that, "without violating the precepts of our religion, a table can be spread, which will satisfy the appetites of the most fastidious."

This volume is a fascinating culinary and historical document that offers housekeeping and domestic management advice, as well as daily menu suggestions, a Jewish calendar, and even a selection of medical and household recipes. Mrs. Levy opens her work with a brief review of the basic laws associated with a kosher home including the soaking and salting of meat, and an outline of the arrangements that are necessary to prepare a home for the Passover holiday. She continues with tips on how to arrange a table and which dishes are to be served at every course. A large selection of recipes follows including chapters on fish, soups, meats, breads, preserves, pickles, cheese and wines. A chapter on food for the sick suggests medicinal recipes for fainting and diphtheria. At the end of the book Mrs. Levy provides her reader with miscellaneous household cleaning tips including how to clean silk and ribbons, how to wash a black lace veil, how to cement broken china, how to preserve gilding, how to concoct a good bug poison, and how to take out mildew.

This kosher cookbook, the first of its kind printed in America, allowed Jewish women of the period to serve meals with panache while maintaining elegant yet kosher homes.

Literature: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, "The Kosher Gourmet in the Nineteenth-Century Kitchen: Three Jewish Cookbooks in Historical Perspective." The Journal of Gastronomy 2, no. 4 (1986/1987): 51-89