This week's Yizkorbook excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #yizkorbooks #lithuania

Bruce Drake

I suspect that much of what is described in “Jewish Foods in Lithuania,” from the Yizkor book of Lite, could be said about the many other Jewish communities of eastern Europe. This account starts with a celebration of “sours” — beets (borscht), cabbage and sorrel. Yes, there was kreplekh, tzimmes, latkes, a never-ending list of ways to use potatoes which were eaten two or three times a day, herring, and all manner of breads from challah to dark rye. But as one husband answered when his wife asked him if he was satisfied with the food she had prepared, he answered: “Of course, but unless I have even a little bit of sours, I am not a person.”
This thorough account of Jewish foods moves far beyond “sours” to all the foods common to Jewish households, the poor ones and those better off, and some of the descriptions almost amount to recipes.
I have to admit one of my favorites was the passage about herring, which the writer called “a national dish.” “A herring was eaten raw ‘from the barrel’ … tearing off only the outer skin, in certain cases only the laske (scales). Others dipped the potatoes in ljok (the liquid found in the herring barrel) and maintained that this was the ‘true taste.” The herring was also baked, often baked in sweet, sweet-sour, fried, as well as being chopped with onions…” You, no doubt, will find your own favorites.

Bruce Drake
Silver Spring MD

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel

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