Flavor of prewar Hungarian Jewish life captured in book of recipes and folklore

A unique contribution to Jewish culinary and cultural history has been recognized with a first-of-its-kind literary award.

The 2019 Jewish Book Award in the inaugural category of food writing and cookbooks has been given to “Jewish Cuisine in Hungary: A Cultural History with 83 Authentic Recipes,” by András Koerner.

An architect and author, Koerner has deep family roots in Hungary and its Jewish culture and cuisine. According to Koerner, the oldest handwritten collection of recipes from Hungary that includes Jewish recipes may have been compiled by his great-grandmother, Bernat Berger, which she started in 1869. This proved invaluable in researching a subject for which primary sources such as published cookbooks are hard to find, as Koerner delved into Hungarian history in the centuries before the Holocaust.

Koerner describes “Jewish Cuisine in Hungary” as an attempt to “put together a picture of Hungarian Jewish culture [and cuisine] before the Holocaust from bits of information, stories — pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, so to speak.”

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