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Foodspiration for the New Year

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Foodspiration for the New Year photo

Jewish people love two things above all else: guilt and food. I tend to pay homage to both of these cultural pillars simultaneously—particularly around the new year.

My day job revolves entirely around food, food writing and the sampling of food-related products. In my free time, I’m always thinking about food, whether I’m looking for my next restaurant adventure, surfing/posting food photos on Instagram, or browsing my Facebook feed for recipe ideas. It is thus with great hubris that I declared in December that I would give up both refined sugar and Diet Coke simultaneously in the new year. Last year, I cut sugar out of my diet for a solid six months, before I dipped my toe into the culinary infidelity pond. This year, I’ve been struggling with a one-day-at-a-time tug of war between the great forces of my sugar and Diet Coke dependencies and my will power since New Year’s Day.

I have a caffeine problem, and I’m the first to admit it. I need a couple of cups of steaming coffee in the morning to jumpstart my day, and I normally rely on a refreshing, cold can of Diet Coke in the afternoon to pick me back up. This regime is mostly one I follow at work, as I tend to actually sleep enough on the weekends to cut my caffeine intake. I’ve now been living in a Diet-Coke-less world, in which the feint echoes of a crisp, cold can opening ring through my head, as I drowsily fight that “2 o’clock feeling” each weekday afternoon. With great determination, I’ve replaced that afternoon Coke with more water, and sometimes caffeinated tea or an extra cup of coffee. I’m not reducing my caffeine intake, per se, but I am trying to cut out Diet Coke, which is reportedly toxic for many reasons.

I’ve been less strict with my sugar intake since January 1, namely because I’ve justified a chocolate nosh here and there as part of my self-care regime during a flu-ridden month. In between battling my sugar/caffeine demons, I’ve had the respiratory flu bug that everyone seems to have and can’t shake. Knocked down twice by this sucker and still coughing a month later, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time locked in my apartment, slurping down chicken soup—a.k.a. Jewish penicillin. For a majority of the month, I’ve been living on chicken soup, chocolate, and orange juice—otherwise known as my “Jewish diet.”

My first bout of the flu hit me around Hannukah/Christmas time, when like most Jews, I was thinking of nothing but Chinese food. At the time, I happened upon what is now one of my favorite Jewish food blogs, WhatJewWannaEat.com. Blogger Amy Kritzer is my Jewish food hero. I love her blog so much, I’m actually angry I didn’t think of it first. Not only is the blog name genius, but her playful and creative content makes Jewish food exciting and fresh for younger audiences, including both holiday and everyday fare. With a nod to Jewish food’s longtime tie to “the old world,” her blog tagline is “This ain’t yo bubbe’s blog,” which is painted across a unicorn logo. One of the first recipes I noted on her blog at the time, was a reimagined chicken soup recipe for Egg Drop Matzo Ball Soup. With this single recipe, Kritzer stole my heart, combining my great loves: Chinese food and Jewish comfort food. Little did I know at the time, her blog was filled with these hybrid treasures, including Chai Tea Challah Bread, Mexican Chocolate Latkes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream, Beer Battered Deep Fried Brisket Fritters with Horseradish Ailoi and so many more… Kritzer’s blog is truly a Jewish foodie’s paradise.

Kritzer is not the first to conjure up new visions of Jewish cuisine. In fact, in a May 2014 New York Times article titled “Everything New Is Old Again,” writer Julia Moskin claims that Jewish food is seeing a reinvention revival.

“Artisanal gefilte fish. Slow-fermented bagels. Organic chopped liver. Sustainable schmaltz. These aren’t punch lines to a fresh crop of Jewish jokes,” Moskin said. “They are real foods that recently arrived on New York City’s food scene. And they are proof of a sudden and strong movement among young cooks, mostly Jewish-Americans, to embrace and redeem the foods of their forebears.”

Similarly, there are a crop of young food bloggers who are reinventing/reviving the Jewish palette.

While the new year might be a time when many of us are trying to temper our over-indulgent tendencies, it’s also a fabulous time to explore new foods and experiences. In the spirit of culinary exploration, I wanted to share some of my favorite Jewish food blogs to sample in the new year.

12 Jewish-Themed Food Blogs to Sample This Year:

1. WhatJewWannatEat

2. JewHungry

3. SmittenKitchen (not officially a Jewish blog, but blogger Deb Perelman includes many Jewish recipes)

4. The Shiksa in the Kitchen (A Jewish convert and blogger, Tori Avery explores Jewish food with a fresh perspective)

5. The Jew & The Carrot

6. Kosher Camembert

7. Sephardic Food

8. Kosher in the Kitch

9. Itsy Bitsy Balebusta

10. Joy of Kosher

11. Not Derby Pie

12. This American Bite  

Ess gesunt! - Eat in good health!

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