Last week, Gil Marks passed away at the untimely age of 62. He was a legendary food writer, known not only for his recipes, but for his contribution to our understanding of Jewish food. He did extensive research on the details of recipes, their cultural connections, and place in history. Because I trained as an anthropologist, his ethnological approach to Jewish food made him by far my favorite cookbook author.
His most famous books are The World of Jewish Cooking, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World and Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. That final title is my absolute favorite cookbook of all time. It actually makes fun reading even if you make not one recipe. Marks also wrote extensively for periodicals, such as Emunah Magazine.
Twenty years ago, most people thought of latkes, kugel, kishke, and borsht when they referred to “Jewish Food.” Marks changed that and became among those who popularized Sephardic and Mizrachi cuisine. Continue reading