Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South


Product Details

$24.00  $22.08
University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date
7.14 X 9.98 X 0.82 inches | 1.38 pounds

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About the Author

Marcie Cohen Ferris is professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a former president of the Southern Foodways Alliance.


Ferris continues the exploration of Jewish influences on Southern cooking with Matzoh Ball Gumbo.--Daily Advertiser

The definitive study of the genre. . . . From Ferris's research a wonderful collection of recipes has emerged. . . . Ferris meticulously records never-before-told tales from folks like African American bar mitzvah caterers in Atlanta, Orthodox rabbis accused of smoking tongues in decidedly unkosher smokehouses in Memphis, and a family in the Mississippi Delta who, unable to keep kosher for lack of available ingredients, would nonetheless never eat catfish.--Saveur

Fascinating reading mixed with delicious recipes.--Chicago Tribune

A heartwarming, beautifully researched travel through Southern history that readers can really sink their teeth into. . . . Matzoh Ball Gumbo is literally a true taste of the good things in life emerging from the tragedies and triumphs of cultural diversity and the recipes . . . will be a high point of the book for any cook, any reader. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and Matzoh Ball Gumbo serves it to perfection." --The Advocate

This culinary journey embraces oral histories, poignant anecdotes and evocative photographs to explore the power of food in the Jewish South. More than 30 recipes, many blending Jewish and Southern food traditions, add a cook's perspective and illustrate the story at the dinner table.--Chapel Hill Magazine

Like the gumbo of its title, Marcie Cohen Ferris's new book offers a rich stew to savor. . . . Meticulously researched and documented, eminently readable, further enlivened with the voices of Ferris's many interviewees, and illustrated with photographs, newspaper clippings, and more, Matzoh Ball Gumbo provides an utterly nourishing read.--The Forward

A New York Times Notable Cookbook of 2005
A Chicago Tribune Favorite Cookbook of 2005
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Top Cookbook of 2005

[Matzoh Ball Gumbo] . . . is a blend of research and real people. . . . The tales--insightful, funny and occasionally heartbreaking--come complete with recipes, including one for her mother's Rosh Hashana jam cake.--New York Times

Extraordinary and multifaceted. . . . It is at once scholarly and entertaining--a difficult combination to achieve. [This reviewer] smiled at many passages, delighted in the personal stories, and developed a much stronger sense of place. And [the reviewer] was always left hungry.--Journal of Southern History

In Matzoh Ball Gumbo, A Culinary Journey of the Jewish South, Arkansas native Marcie Cohen Ferris explores how Jews embraced, avoided, and adapted southern food and, in that process, found themselves at home.--Chapel Hill Herald

It's delightful to be able to experience these flavors in your own kitchen and equally enlightening to reflect on the simple acts of daily meals that can combine to create a history.--Appetite for Books

Takes readers on a tasty road trip.--Arkansas Libraries

Nine-tenths Jewish American history, one-tenth cookbook, Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South combines tales of growing up and growing old in a Southern Jewish family with vintage black-and-white photographs and mouth-watering recipes. . . . Exhaustive research and an index for quick and easy topic recipe lookup round out this leisurely reading delight.--Midwest Book Review

Just plain fun, as well as being thought-provoking. . . . This is the sort of book that causes you to interrupt your spouse's work to read bits aloud. It will be at the top of my gift list for almost everyone next year, and it should certainly be on your bookshelf.--Southern Cultures

Many traditional Southern foods--pulled-pork barbecue, crab cakes, fried oyster po' boys, to name a few--violate traditional Jewish dietary laws, which forbid the consumption of pork and shellfish. What's a Southern Jew to do? Anthropological historian Ferris . . . answers that question in a gustatory tour of the Jewish South. . . . If this book were a restaurant, Michelin would award it two out of three stars: . . . 'excellent cooking, worth a detour.'--Publishers Weekly

Fascinating reading, mixed with delicious recipes.--Houston Chronicle

Handsomely produced, filled with vivid and evocative photographs with many piquant sidebars. . . . The carefully selected recipes that accompany each chapter are skillfully adapted and usable.--Journal of Material Religion

Sprinkled with recipes, [Matzoh Ball Gumbo] is a culinary walk through the unique history of the Jews of the American South.--World Jewish Digest

A must-read for Vicksburg-area residents. . . . Ferris is no ordinary cookbook author. She is a writer of history - Southern Jewish history as it can be told through the recipes served on Jewish family tables.--Vicksburg Post

Matzoh Ball Gumbo is a well-researched book, lovingly told with personal anecdotes, illustrative visual materials, and . . . historical and family recipes.--Gastronomica

In Matzoh Ball Gumbo, author Marcie Cohen Ferris has chronicled an important history of food and culture that is a fundamental element of who we are as southerners.--A Rep Reading blog

[A] big beautiful book about Southern Jewish cooking, and the cooks who cook it, and the families who eat it.--Arkansas Times

With recipes like Sabbath Marble Cake and Mimah's Cheesecake, this book is sure to be a hit with anyone interested in cookery, Jewish history, or Southern history.--Library Journal

It may sound trivial, but no doubt the invention of Crisco was the answer to the prayers of some Jewish women in the South. . . . The miracle of Crisco is just one of the fascinating facts presented in Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. . . . Ferris . . . tell[s] the history of the Jewish South from a cook's perspective.--Raleigh News & Observer

A Jewish native of Arkansas and anthropological historian examines the compromises, adaptations and challenges of a people adrift in a land where such forbidden foods as pork and shellfish were staples.--Black Issues Book Review

A fascinating story of immigration, acculturation, and assimilation. . . . Matzoh Ball Gumbo is a book to savor and to share.--Austin Chronicle

A fascinating look at the differences of the kosher kitchen.--Charleston Post & Courier

Goes far beyond the kitchen . . . documents Southern Jewish domestic, social, racial, religious, and business life over three centuries. Rich in anecdote and based on extensive interviews, Matzoh Ball Gumbo records an important aspect of the American Jewish experience.--Jewish Book World

A compelling storyteller, Ferris turns history into riveting reading.--Jewish Telegraphic Agency