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October 08, 1993 - Image 106

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-10-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Here's How Y'all
Keep It Kosher

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hey're the 'kosher-cajun'
gals, hailing from, where
else, New Orleans. Or
N'Awlins, as the natives

say.
Meet Mildred Covert, 66, and
Sylvia Gerson, 77, two spunky
Southern belles who have suc-
cessfully steered kosher cook-
ing into exciting, fabulous foods
with the unmistakable flavors
of the South.
The two have been friends
for "at least 40 years" quips
Ms. Covert, a tour guide born
and bread in New Orleans.
"Every month in this city is
a yom toy" she says, explaining
"there's Passover and Mardi
Gras, the Sugar Bowl, Rosh
Hashanah and so on...and there
are certain foods and recipes
that go with each. As a tour
guide, I picked up recipes as we
went along, got home and
adapted them for my kosher
kitchen."
Ms. Gerson came to the city
famous for its food in 1939 as
a young bride. Her husband's
family had been there for five
generations and employed a
Creole cook who did not neces-
sarily keep to the laws of
kashrut.
"I wanted to please my hus-
band," she laughs, "so I learned
to adapt local specialties for my
kosher kitchen — and became
a kosher Creole cook."
Each woman was "cooking
kosher" and becoming a cele-
brated cook in the New Orleans
style without even realizing it.
Then it happened.
As Sylvia tells it, "I decided
to Xerox a dozen much-re-
quested recipes to send to
friends — including Mildred.
One thing led to another and
we decided to collaborate on a
cookbook. After all we had
worked together for years on
Hadassah committees — so
why not this?"
The result was wildly suc-
cessful. It was 12 years ago, on
Sylvia's 65th birthday, when
they received a contract for their
first book, The Kosher Creole
Cookbook (Pelican). "We sold it
entirely on our own merits"
Sylvia chuckles "no agent...we
didn't know you were supposed
to have one."
Their second book Kosher Ca-
jun Cookbook (Pelican), pub-
lished in 1987, adapts Cajun
recipes — which normally re-
lies upon such prohibited foods
as shellfish, and turtle for its
hot, spicy gumbos and jambal-
ayas - for the kosher kitchen.
By skillful, tried and tested

adaptations and ingredient sub-
stitution, the results are dishes
with authentic flavors prompt-
ing the comment when tasted:
"I don't believe this is kosher."
But they are.
In their latest book Kosher

Southern-Style Cookbook,
(Pelican), Ms. Covert and Ms.
Gerson take the reader on a
cook's tour of the historic
grand Jewish community of
the Southern states.
"The South is on the rise
again," they state in the intro-
duction "not with cannons this
time...but with their best
weapon: food." Immigrant Jew-
ish women coming to a strange
new land, quickly adapted their
households to the Southern way
of life. They helped manage
plantations, lost European ac-
cents to the local drawl and
most important, brought their
own culinary heritage into
Southern kitchens. As pioneers,
they learned that grits, fried
chicken and corn fritters could
replace kasha, wiener schnitzel

They brought their
heritage to
Southern kitchens.

and other familiar European
foods. But the authors find that
throughout the generations, one
thing was constant — foods
from these Jewish kitchens of
the Confederacy always re-
mained kosher.
This book, which took two
years to research, contains brief
histories and Jewish points of
interest in the eleven states of
the Confederacy.
Microwave and convention-
al methods are given for recipes
where feasible, and each chap-
ter is prefaced with an authen-
tic Civil War or pre-Civil War
recipe.
I would like to have seen
more concise directions and ex-
planations, especially for new
cooks. For example, two table-
spoons of oil is not enough to fry
a recipe of fritters unless a non-
stick skillet is used and how
many shallots are in a bunch?
That said, the book is refresh-
ing and a delightful read. The
enchantingly illustrated book
jacket and drawings are the
work of Ms. Gerson's son, Alan,
adding a whimsical dimension
to the latest offering from these
talented, food professionals.

KOSHER page 110

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