Hon­ey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birke­nau Survivors

January 4, 2022

More than a cook­book, this col­lec­tion of heir­loom recipes con­veys Auschwitz-Birke­nau sur­vivors’ sto­ries through the mnemon­ic lens of cook­ing and food. Col­lect­ed and edit­ed dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, this book — in the words of Ronald S. Laud­er, Chair­man of the Auschwitz-Birke­nau Memo­r­i­al Foun­da­tion — is a sto­ry of hope and tri­umph of the human spir­it.” Over 110 recipes accom­pa­nied by sur­vivors’ pre-war rec­ol­lec­tions and post-lib­er­a­tion mem­o­ries weave a unique tapes­try of sen­so­ry expe­ri­ences of fla­vors and aro­mas from the old world, accounts of loss and trau­ma, as well as heart­warm­ing and poignant tales of new begin­nings and heal­ing. All of the recipes have been test­ed and retest­ed to make sure they can be repli­cat­ed in your kitchen while keep­ing the orig­i­nal char­ac­ter and voice of the sur­vivors who con­tributed to the vol­ume. Deli­cious recipes include Blintzes, Kugel, Mat­zo Ball Soup, Cholent, Goulash, Kasha Var­nishkes, Rugelach, and more. Plus, there is a spe­cial chap­ter devot­ed to clas­sic dish­es for the Jew­ish hol­i­days (Latkes, Charoset, Gefilte Fish, Knish­es, Tzimmes, Chal­lah, and oth­ers) that you can use to pre­pare, host, or bring food to a gath­er­ing. All pro­ceeds from the sale of this book go to the Auschwitz-Birke­nau Memo­r­i­al Foundation.

Discussion Questions

The Auschwitz-Birke­nau Memo­r­i­al Foundation’s cook­book Hon­ey Cake and Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birke­nau Sur­vivors is a life-affirm­ing col­lec­tion of recipes, sto­ries, biogra­phies, and pho­tos that man­ages to rev­el in the joy of eat­ing and cook­ing while admirably hon­or­ing the tragedy of the Holo­caust. The recipes and the biogra­phies of each sur­vivor stand as tes­ta­ments to the tri­umph of sur­vival and the endurance of Jew­ish life. Each recipe reveals a new glimpse into sur­vivors’ fam­i­ly his­to­ries, as well as their lives after the war when many incor­po­rat­ed fam­i­ly food tra­di­tions into their new lives or adopt­ed new tra­di­tions along the way. While it may seem unusu­al for a casu­al ref­er­ence to years spent in a death camp to start off the descrip­tion and sto­ry for Plum Cake, it speaks to the lived expe­ri­ence of sur­vivors who con­tin­ued to process the trau­mas of that peri­od of their lives in every­day moments, small and large. The fact that a cook­book can cap­ture those nuances is what sets the book apart. Some sim­ple recipes, such as choco­late on toast, speak to the small plea­sures of life that sur­vivors can tru­ly appre­ci­ate. Oth­er recipes fea­tured in the book are clas­sics of the Yid­dish kitchen, such as gefilte fish, cold cher­ry soup, and Hun­gar­i­an shlishkes. Despite the grand­ness of the mis­sion of this book, the recipes are incred­i­bly appe­tiz­ing and beau­ti­ful­ly pho­tographed. The book stands on its own as a cook­book, and yet it offers so much more.