✶ ✶ UPDATE ✶ ✶ May 19, 2016: Thanks to our incredible community of supporters, we reached our initial goal after only 5 days! We increased our goal to $7,850 (a "stretch goal"), which we are well on our way to meeting. Please read the update from May 2nd for details (click on "update" button above). Thank you!!! ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶
We are a mother (Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman) and daughter (Sonya Gropman) team, and have been researching German-Jewish cuisine for the past six years. We are now writing a cookbook about it! The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine, which will be published in 2017 by Brandeis University Press, the HBI Series on Jewish Women (part of University Press of New England).
The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine will include:
- -- RECIPES over 100 recipes (including: weekday and holiday meals; dairy, meat, and parve; soups, salads, vegetables, meats and poultry, fish, and desserts and cakes
- -- ILLUSTRATIONS black & white hand-drawn illustrations by New York City based illustrator Megan Piontowski http://meganpiontkowski-illustration.com
- -- PHOTOGRAPHS both colour and black & white photographs by Sonya Gropman. Sonya’s blog: www.eatartword.wordpress.com
- -- CULTURAL HISTORY Including:
- -- history of Jews in Germany
- -- interviews we have conducted with German-Jews about their food memories
- -- Gabrielle's memories of growing up in Washington Heights, NYC.
Gabrielle was born in Germany and she emigrated to the U.S. with her parents as a baby in 1939, just in time to survive the Holocaust. The Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan where she grew up was home to about 20,000 other Jewish refugees from Germany (and Austria). This concentrated German-Jewish community made it possible for families to continue their everyday traditions, including cooking and eating German-Jewish food. Thus, Gabrielle grew up eating the traditional foods that her family had eaten in Germany.
Sonya grew up in Boston, eating a wide and eclectic variety of foods that included traditional German-Jewish dishes and the foods of her Eastern European Jewish family on her father’s side, as well as French, Asian, Italian, vegetarian, and many other types of dishes that the Gropman family cooked during her childhood.
German-Jewish cuisine is quite different from that of Eastern Europe and is filled with many surprising and delicious recipes. Sonya’s realization of the distinction between the two Jewish food traditions she grew up eating at her two sets of grandparents’ homes - her mother’s German-Jewish parents and her father’s east European parents - is what inspired this project. It was the catalyst for our trip down a path of exploration, which has come to include several research trips to Germany; locating and interviewing elderly informants (in English and/or German); translating historic German-Jewish cookbooks; poring over historic documents at the Leo Baeck Institute and our own trove of family documents; launching a blog; writing a book proposal (no easy task!); and now, finally, writing The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine.
History of a Cuisine
We have come to realize that German-Jewish cuisine - one that we’ve both eaten our entire lives and taken for granted - is unfamiliar to most people. When people speak of Jewish food and Jewish culture they are generally referring to East European food and culture (and less frequently to the Sephardic food tradition). However, while not very far geographically from the lands of Polish-Ukrainian-Russian Jewish food, German-Jewish food and culture were, and are, very different. German-Jewish culture was a significant and consistent presence in Germany for over 1,000 years, until it was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Surviving German-Jews scattered across the globe, taking their cuisine with them. While many 2nd and 3rd generation German-Jews continue to cook traditional dishes for their families, it remains unfamiliar to most people outside the community and is at risk of becoming a vanishing tradition. It is time to bring this tradition to a wider audience who can partake of this wonderful food. Thus, our primary reason for writing this book is to preserve the food of a culture.
We are in the midst of writing the book. It is due to be turned in to our editor this summer (August, 2016) and we are well on our way to meeting our deadline. We fully expect to be on schedule. The book is slated to be published in Fall, 2017 (it commonly takes about one year for a book to be published once the manuscript is accepted!).
Why are we crowdsourcing if we have a publisher?
University Presses often do not have the resources to grant authors an advance. Advances (an advance payment on future royalties from sales of the book) are used by authors to defray the costs of writing a book. Since we did not receive an advance, we must pay for the expenses of writing the book out of pocket -- it is for these expenses that we are asking for your support. With your help, we can achieve our goal! Cookbooks present more costs for the author than other types of books. Some of the expenses of the book which we must cover include:
- Transcription of Audio Tapes – many hours of interviews with German-Jews about their food memories
- Illustrator – paying a fee to our illustrator, Megan Piontowski, who will make black & white line drawings and how-to diagrams for the book
- Photography - Sonya will do the food photography for the book, but will need to hire a food stylist, plus incur other expenses.
- Recipe Testing - The cost of ingredients for over 100 recipes - each tested at least twice, some many more times - adds up!
Creating a Beautiful Book
After working so hard and for so long on this project, we want to create a book that will be beautiful and a credit to its subject. As artists, we are very concerned with the visual design of the book. There will be delightful illustrations of dishes and how-to diagrams of complicated techniques, and excellent photographs, both black & white and color, of most of the recipes in the book.
We invite you to join the people who are already enthusiastically awaiting publication. Many of the recipes are simple to produce, and some will offer you techniques and ingredients that may be new to you. The recipes are both authentic and accessible. We promise you recipes that are not only historic, but also ones that are delicious, appeal to modern tastes, and focus on fresh ingredients. We expect that you will add some of them to your everyday cooking repertoire! We also promise that you will find interesting people who share stories of their lives. And get a glimpse into life in Washington Heights, NYC as a German-Jew in the 1940s and 1950s from Gabrielle, who grew up there.
Recognition for German-Jewish cuisine and for our book!
- An article in the Boston Jewish Advocate by Wes Eichenwald about our project was titled: “Can German-Jewish food be the next Culinary Trend?” http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/news/2015-0904/Top_News/Can_GermanJewish_food_be_the_next_culinary_trend.html
- Our recipe for Green Cabbage Slaw (Krautsalat) was a Wildcard Contest Winner and a Community Pick on the well-known food site Food52! https://food52.com/recipes/31608-green-cabbage-slaw-krautsalat
- Chef Sean Remold created a special Passover dinner menu inspired by our recipes at Reynard, in Brooklyn, NY in April, 2015. http://reynardnyc.com
We have thought through a splendid REWARDS PROGRAM for those of you who join our team. Hand-made (both painted and silk screened) tote bags and aprons, an artist print with recipe, autographed copies of the book, a cooking class, a lecture and even a home-cooked meal in your home! Check them out on the right side of the page.
Our Video Editor!
We are so appreciative of the fantastic work Siobhan Dunne did in editing our video. Thanks, Siobhan! If you're looking for an editor for your project, see more of her work and get in touch with her here: http://siobhandunne.com
Big thanks to Don Gropman! (Sonya's dad, Gabrielle's husband) For being our copy editor, camera man, and all-around mentor!
Thanks to you!
Thank you for your interest. We look forward to your participation and involvement with this project. If you know anyone who wants to share their stories or recipes with us, please let us know! And of course, we will stay in touch with updates along the way!
Risks and challenges
This book project thus far has been a combination of exciting opportunities and joys, as well as a few frustrations, and we have dealt with each with fierce determination. We are thrilled to be working with a wonderful editor at Brandeis University Press, whose support we can count on should we face any future challenges.
Working as a mother-daughter team has been one of the more interesting challenges. We have been discovering more and more about our similarities and differences, and we have learned to maximize the value of those differences. Each of us has different talents, but we have one vision!
We have come a long way, and we are confident in our ability to complete our book in a fashion that will fulfill our vision.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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