The Giv­ing Table

  • Review
By – July 31, 2023

Food is an inte­gral part of Jew­ish life and cul­ture. With Shab­bat, oth­er hol­i­days, and life­cy­cle events, there are always oppor­tu­ni­ties to cook and eat. 

In The Giv­ing Table, food writer and culi­nary instruc­tor Nao­mi Ross reach­es out to those who want to learn more about cook­ing, pro­vid­ing both prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion and spir­i­tu­al guid­ance. Her intro­duc­tion dis­cuss­es the basics: orga­niz­ing a kitchen, shop­ping for and stock­ing ingre­di­ents that pack fla­vor, and using left­overs creatively. 

There are chap­ters for soups, sal­ads, fish, meat and poul­try, meat­less dish­es, dairy, desserts, and breads. Each recipe includes a col­or illus­tra­tion and lists the num­ber of serv­ings, prep and cook­ing time, lev­el of dif­fi­cul­ty, and whether it is gluten-free and Passover-friend­ly. Because she assumes that her read­ers have kosher kitchens, Ross sug­gests pareve sub­sti­tutes for dairy ingre­di­ents. She also offers tips for cook­ing tech­niques and spe­cial sup­plies. Two appen­dices pro­vide sam­ple menus for hol­i­days and cel­e­bra­tions and strate­gies for self-care and sav­ing time. The index con­tains a num­ber of build­ing-block recipes, includ­ing sauces, rel­ish­es, and mari­nades. Some recipes include QR codes that link to videos illus­trat­ing the tech­niques need­ed to pre­pare them. 

With Ashke­nazi basics like kugel and roast, as well as delec­table treats such as shi­itake-and-veg­etable egg rolls and spiked choco­late cheese­cake, this book sets out to prove that kosher cook­ing will nev­er be dull. 

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions