Translated Yiddish Cookbook Offers a Peek into the Past

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Everything old is new again.” It may be a cliché, but a new translation of an old Yiddish cookbook from 1914 proves that it’s the truth. More than a cookbook, the volume also provides a healthy dose of dietary advice that’s striking in how “modern” it sounds.

When Bacha Weingrod received an old copy of the “Dos Familien Kokh-Bookh” as a housewarming present, she knew immediately that she had something special on her hands. In an interview with, she explains:

“It was like going back to my roots. I did not have to go Russia to the small village where my mother was from. I just opened the book and it was somehow there.”

When she retired, Weingrod decided to work on translating the book from Yiddish to English. She recently released a translation that includes 200 of the original recipes and advice on food selection and diet from the original cookbook’s author, H. Braun.

It’s surprising how much of that advice, which focuses on choosing fresh, healthy foods over traditional rich, calorie-laden meals, sounds like it could have been written by a modern foodie like Jamie Oliver.

For example, take this quote from the cookbook’s introduction:

“It is true: we live not to eat but eat to live. It is therefore also true that the kind of food we eat determines the kind of life we lead.”

Braun tells readers that “no meal is complete without a vegetable.” She also advises new immigrants not to get carried away by the many rich food choices available in America – advice that we obviously still haven’t learned from, even today.

But while the book is mostly timeless, one piece of advice is perhaps best left in the last century – the practice of feeding raw beef sandwiches to invalids. Yuck!