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Food Timeline Passover foods: 20th century USA notes, recipes & menus

The following notes are far from comprehensive. They are meant to illustrate some of the 20th century American culinary experience at Passover. Below please find selected articles and notes from Jewish cookbooks. If you would like recipes from any of the books we cite please let us know. Happy to share.

About matzo & matzo balls.

[1908]
"Hundreds of poor Hebrews, 90 per ceent of them women, waited outside 188 East Broadway yesterday from a early hour to get free tickets for the matzoths, Passover bread, meat, and groceries which are given away every year by the United Hebrew Communities Charity. There is no limit to the number of tickets that are distributed, as the office keeps open so long as the funds last. From 8 o'clock yesterday morning until 8 o'clock last night 50,000 pounds of mazoths were given away...In additon to the matzoths, the tickets call for a liberal allowance of meat, coal, vegetables and groceries."
---"Hebrew Charity Aids Thousands," New York Times,, April 10. 1908 p. 8)

[1916]
Charities ensure food for all at Passover: refugees, Ellis Island, prisons and soldiers "Jews throughout the world have always made it a point of honor to care for their poor, specially around the Passover season, seeing to it that none should lack the matzoth and Passover foods. Relying on this, special appeals have been made by Jewish relief and charitable organizations this year, particularly for the homeless Jewish refugees in the war-torn lands of Europe and Asia...In preparation for the Passover, the United Hebrew Community with the co-operation of the Muskel Al Dol Society, has distributed among the poor 50,000 pounds of matzoth, 5,000 pounds of meat, 300 pounds of tea and 10 barrels of sugar. The food will feed 3,000 families. It is estimated the East Side Matzoth Fund has also purchase 3,000 pounds of matzoth for the poor. The poor of the Oriental Jewish Colony have been also been provided for the Jewish inmates of prisons and correctional institutions in the State by the Jewish Protectory and Aid Society. ...The Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society...will celebrate the opening of the Passover season tonight with a Seer at its home where 1,200 Jewish immigrants and poor wil be fed, with another Seder on Elliz Island, where all of the Jewish immigrants detained there will sit down to table. Rabbi Barnott Siegel will preside at the home and ex-Judge Leon Sanders, President of the Society will preside at Ellis Island...Jewish soldiers and sailors from the forts and battleships in the vicinity of New York will be provided with a Seder this evening at the Young Men's Hebrew Asspciation, Lexington Avenue and Ninety-second Street."
--- "Jews to Celebrate Passover Tonight," New York Times, April 17, 1916 (p. 11)

[1918]
Florence Kreisler Greenbaum's Jewish Cook Book [Bloch Publishing:New York] contains basic instructions for setting the Seder table but nothing regarding foods/menus for the week ahead. She offers recipes for these dishes in the Passover chapter: Pesach borscht, Rosel (beet vinegar), Raisin wine (2 recipes), Yom-Tov soup, Matzoth meal kleis (2 recipes), Palestine soup, Potato flour noodles, Matzoth meal noodles, Marrow dumplings, Almond balls, Matzoth kleis (2 recipes), Fried matzoth kleis, English lemon stewed fish, Sole with wine (French recipe), Red mullet in cases, Chrimsel (2 recipes), Kentucky chrimsel, Matzoth with scrambled eggs, Scrambled matzoth, Matzoth dipped in eggs (2 recipes), Zweibel matzoth, Matzoth eirkuchen, Matzoth meal macaroons, Pie crust, Mamoras (Turkish), German puffs, Matzoth charlotte (2 recipes), Matzoth kugel, Matzot shalet, Potato pudding, Matzoth plum pudding, Batter pudding, Beolas, Cocoanut pudding, carrot pudding, Almond pudding (2 recipes), Almond hills, Apple sponge pudding, Grated apple pudding, Foam torte, Sponge cake (2 recipes), Potato flour sponge cake, Strawberry shortcake with matzoth-meal, Hasty pudding, Potato flour pudding, Pesach cake with walnuts, Date cake, Chocolate cake, Cookies, Lemon preserves, Candied lemon and orange peel, Wine sauce, Rum sauce, Sugar syrup, Mocked whipped cream filling, Lemon cream filling, Strawberry dessert."
---Jewish Cook Book, Florence Kresiler Greenbaum [Bloch Publishing:New York] 1918, 9th printing 1931

"Owing to the wheat conservation rules of the United States Food Administration, Albert Kruger, executive director of the Maskel-el-Dol, a relief society on the east side, said yesterday that the Jewish population of the country will have its supply of matzoth for the Passover season reduced by at least 30 per cent...Mr. Kruger asserted that a greater amount of potatoes will be used to fill in the want created by the reduction of the matzoth suppy...The substantial rise in the price of mutton over that of last year will also have its effect on the festivities. A large amount of mutton is consumed during the celebration. A year ago mutton sold at 6 to 7 cents a pound. This year it costs aobut 11 1/2 cents a pound."
---"Matzoth Will Be Scarce," New York Times, February 11, 1918 (p. 4)

[1920]
"For the first time since the war broke out in 1914 about 100 Orthodox Jews from Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe detained on Elliz Island were enable to observe the Feast of the Passover last night through arrangements made by the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of 229 East Broadway. M. Kley, agent of the society on the isalnd, and his secretary, Miss Sonia Moonitz had prepared motzoths, Wine, fish, horseradish, bitter herbs and other accompaniments of the seder were served, and ofe of the rabbis on the island read the Passover ceremony. The fog forced the society's delgation to reamin on the island over night."
---"Passover at Ellis Island," New York Times, April 3, 1920 (p. 3)

[1931]
"Forty thousand cartons of food were distributed yesterday by the police on behalf of the Mayor's Unemployment Committee. Five thousand cartons were supplied to Jewish families for Passover...The allotment to orthodox Jewish families contained the usual supply of potatoes and vegetables, and in addition ten pounds of matzoths, two pounds of vegetable fat and five pounds of matzoth meal."
---"Jobless Here Get 40,000 Food Cartons," New York Times, April 4, 1931 (p. 17)

[1949]
Leah W. Leonard's Jewish Cookery offers extensive notes, recipes & suggested menus for every meal: "Passover Foods. During the eight days of Passover meals vary form those of the rest of the year. The same foods are used with these exceptions: all leaven is omitted; dried beans and peas, legumes and grains may not be used; baking powder, baking soda and yeast are not permitted. The customary flour for baking and cooking is replaced by matzo meal, potato flour and matzo meal cake flour (finely ground matzo meal). All other foods may be used in the same manner as at any other time of the year...In some families it is customary to limit the menus to fleishig and pareve foods during Passover week in order to eliminate a double set of dishes and kitchen utensils used exclusively for Pesach. Various package foods, canned goods and sweet meat, as well as dairy products, are available and labeled Korshe Shel Pesach (for Passover use). Wines, whisky and carbonate water for Passover are also marked in the same manner. Meats, poultry, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables are used extensively for Passover meals. These meals are further enhanced by specially prepared and packaged dried fruits, shredded cocoanut, almonds and other nuts. Salad oils as well as vegetable shortening are also available for Passover use. Rendered goose fat (schmaltz) has been a favorite shortening for centuries. Schmaltz of goose fat and chicken fat is usually prepared and stored for Passover use long in advance of the holiday in modern Jewish homes. The Passover menus are only slightly varied because of the above traditional prohibitions. Specimen menus and substitutes are suggested in the following pages. However, as in all meal planning, individual nutrition needs, tastes, preferences and prejudices must be taken into consideration. With a little ingenuity the kitchen engineer should have no difficulties in serving well-balanced, nutritious and attractive meals during Passover."
---Jewish Cookery, Leah W. Leonard [Crown Publishers:New York] 1949 (p. 37-38) [NOTE: Instructions for rendering schmaltz appear on p. 42-43.]

Passover recipes in this book: Passover beet preserves, Black radish preserves (Russian style), Beet sour (Rossel), Meatless rossel borscht, Meat rossel borscht, Rossel borscht with meatballs, Charoses (for the Seder Table), Motzo brie or Fried matzo, Zweibel or onion matzo, Matso scrambles, Matzo eirkuchen, Passover farfle for soup, Matzo meal mandlen, Passover egg noodles, Featherlight knaidlach, Knaidlach mit neshomes, Knaidlach, Mashed potato Knaidlach, Grated potato Knaidlach, Marrow knaidlach, Matzo meal cheese balls, Passover cheese blintzes, Meat blintzes, Matso polenta (milchig), Scalloped matzos (Milshig), Spiced matzos (Milchig), Baked matzo sandwiches, Matzo meal muffins, Matzo meal pancakes, Pancake rolls, Matzo pancakes, Meat filled matzo cakes, Baked matzo-vegetable scallop, Chremzlach, Grated apple pudding, Banana pudding, Carrot pudding, Matzo farfel pudding, Date pudding, Vegetable pudding, Cheese pudding. Matzo Charlotte (1 & 2), Matzo Kugel, Banana cake, Chocolate cake, Mystery cake, Nut cake, Sponge cake (3 recipes), Economy almond cake, Ginger fingers, Nut kuchen, Almond macaroons, Passover puff, Passover Ingberlach, Passover lemon pie, Apple sponge pudding, Mock noodle pudding, Pineapple sauce, Raisin sauce, wine sauce, Matzo shalet, Matzo farfel shalet, Passover apple snow dessert, Passover baked apples, Prune jam knaidlach (Hungarian), Red sea salad, Chariot salad, Passover fruit salad dressing, Passover soup mandlen, Raisin wine (2 recipes), Concord Grape wine (3 recipes), Cherry wine, Peach brandy & Homemade mead for Passover (an old-fashioned recipe).

Sample menus: Seder Menu #1: Gefilte Fish on Lettuce with Beet Colored Horse-radish, Chopped-Liver-filled Celery, Chicken Soup with Knaidlach mit Neshomes, Roast Chicken with Matzo-Prune Dressing, Giblet Gravy, Asparagus Tips, Orange and Grapefruit Salad, Sponge Cake, Tea or Black Coffee.
Seder Menu #2: Gefilte Fish, Chicken Soup with Egg Noodles, Roast Chicken, Matzo-Fruit Dressing, Giblet Gravy, Red Sea Salad, Apple Snow, Passover Nut Cake, Tea or Black Coffee.
Seder Menu #3: Gefilte Fish, Roast Turkey, Mashed Potato Dressing, Celery, Pickled Beets, Carrot Sticks, Tomato and Green Pepper Salad, Prune Whip on Sponge Cake Rounds, Tea, Black Coffee or Mead.
Breakfast Menu #1: Orange Juice, Boiled, Poached, or Fried Eggs, Matzo or Matzo Meal Muffins, Butter or Preserves, Coffee, Tea or Milk.
Breakfast Menu #2: Orange or Grapefruit Halves, Matzo Brie (fried), Coffee, Tea or Milk.
Breakfast Menu #3: Sliced Bananas with Milk, Matzo or Matzo Meal Muffins, Cottage Cheese, Coffee, Tea, or Milk.
Luncheon Menu #1: Fruit Cup, Baked, Broiled or Fried Fish, Pickled Beets, Matzo Meal Muffins, Coffee, Tea, or Milk, Macaroons.
Luncheon Menu #2: Fruit Juice, Cottage Cheese and Nuts with Sour Cream Dressing, Tossed Greens Salad, Coffee, Tea, or Milk, Cake.
Luncheon Menu #3: Orange Slices, Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups, Matzo Pancakes, Beet Preserves, Black Coffee or Tea, Cocoanut Kisses.
Dinner Menu #1: Clear Beef Broth with Matzo Knaidlach, Meat Filled Zucchini, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Grated Potato Kugelach, Salad of Shredded Cabbage and Carrots on greens, Cocoanut Macaroons, Black Coffee or Tea.
Dinner Menu #2: Vegetable Soup, Stuffed Lamb or Veal Breast (Matzo Stuffing), Harvard Beets, Tossed Green Salad, Applesauce, Black Coffee or Tea.
Dinner Menu #3: Chicken Soup with Fried Matzo Balls, Browned Chicken with Gravy, Asparagus Tips, Boiled Carrots, Cabbage and Apple Slaw, Pinwheel Salad (Orange and Grapefruit), Almond Cookies, Black Coffee or Tea.

[1952]
Newest products feature trendy frozen foods: "Although commercially packaged foods now figure prominently in Passover meus,much cooking is preparation for the holiday still is done at home. This year two leding manufacturers of kosher foods are introducing new recipes, one for a roll leavened only by steam [I. Rokeach & Sons] , another for an easy-to-do fruit fluden [B. Manischewitz Company; both recipes included]...This year the National Jewish Welfare Board, a Government-authorized agency for serving the religious and morale needs of Jewish veterans' hospitals, is sending to service men at Fort Hood, Tex., 2000 frozen packaged seders. The packages, preapred by Borenstein Caterers of Cedarhurst, L.I., include matzoh ball soup, gefuilte fist, roast chicken and dessert. Similar frozen dinners were sent out last year but the shipments were small. The packaged seders are shipped via American Express in special refrigerated containers that are replenished with dry ice along the route. On arrival, they will be stored in frozen food lockers until twelve hours before the Seder, when they will be removed and allowed to thaw. On the seder evening, Jewish Welfore Board volunteers will heat the foil-wrapped chicken in an oven and serve the meal... Welch's Wine Company has produced a special kosher wine that is offered in a decanter-type bottle for Passover. The concern which makes 'Sweet 'N Hearty' grape wine has produced its new version under traditional orthodox supervision. New this year at the Lichtman bakeries [Parkchester]...are frozen matzoh balls prepared especially for Passover. Packed six to a box for 48 cents, they require defrosting for about an hour before they are ready to pop into boiling water. In Barton's candy shops, Passover specialties include chocolate seder eggs ($1 for a box of ten) and nut-flavored Continental chocolate spread (65 cents) that may be used for topooing cakes and frosting matzohs."
---"Food News: Passover Dishes Reviewed," June Owen, New York Times, March 28, 1952 (p. 29)

[1958]
Mildred Grosberg Bellin's Jewish Cook Book chronicles changes in commercially available products: "Until a short time ago, the preparation of balanced, nutritious, and varied meals during Passover was a task of genuine difficulty. So few of the foods which are permitted during Passover were available that the housewife made up her menus of the same dishes, served over and over again. These dishes were traditional ones, varied somewhat in each home by family favorites and the personal touch of each cook, but basically composed of the same few ingredients. This was so because during Passover, many foods, called chamtez, are forbidden. All breads and any other products made with baking powder, baking soda, or yeast, or even with regular flour, are not permitted. Any food prepared with utensils which have touched ingredients not permitted during Passover may not be used. (Certain utensils may be kashered for Passover use.) Legumes, such as peas and beans, are not eaten by Ashkenazi Jews. Milk and its products may not be served unless the production is under rabbinical supervision. Most canned goods are not considered kosher for Passover unless they carry a special seal of approval to indicate they were prepared under proper conditions and rabbinical supervision. Also, in former years, during the early spring few fresh vegetables and fruits were available. Until recently, all these foods were eliminated during Passover. Today this has changed, and so many foods are being prepared especially for this holiday that the choice is limited only by the budget. Canned fruits, a variety of spices, pudding mixes, mayonnaise, chocolate, macaroons, cakes, cheese of many types, dried fruits, coffee, and tea are among those easily secured. In addition the markets are filled with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Milk can be secured in most communities. Eggs are permitted and abundant. With a plentiful supply of meat and fresh fish added, the menu for the entire holiday could be planned with only the absence of bread to indicate that it was Passover. However, since much of the spirit of the festival would be lost without traditional dishes, these should by all means be included, and combined with others in such a way as to make Passover meals distinctive, yet well-balanced. The recipes given in this chapter are those specifically related to Passover, either through the use of special Passover ingredients, or through tradition. Any other recipes which do not require prohibited ingredients may also be used."---Jewish Cook Book, Mildred Grosberg Bellin [Tudor Publishing Company:New York] new and revised edition 1958 (p. 391)

Recipes in this book: Charoses, Rosel (soured beets), Farfel Cereal, Passover garnishes and dumplings for soup, Matzah kleis, Cream sauce for Passover, Mackerel for Passover, Varenikas, Matzah stufing for meat or poultry, Cottage cheese bake, Matzah meal pancakes, Chremslach, Matza fry or brei, Uberschlagene matzos, Zweibel Matzos, Passover rolls, Plum knoedel for Passover (Hungarian), Passover blintzes, Matzah kugel, Passover sponge cake I & II, Passover walnut cake, Passover chocolate almond cake, Passover chocolate fruit squares, Passover spice cake, Strawberry short cake for Passover, Almond cookies, Almond macaroons for Passover, Cinnamon sticks, Mandelbrot for Passover, Passover nut cookies, Almond pudding, Apple pudding, Carrot pudding, Chocolate pudding for Passover, Passover Fluden, Macaroon pudding, Matzah shalet, Passover pie crust, Passover prune and apple deep dish pie, Strawberry dessert, Passover wine sauce, Apple filling for cake, Beet marmalade, Ingberlach (Passover honey candy), Merron pletzlachs (carrot candy), Passover teiglach, Passover French dressing and Passover syrup.]

Jennie Grossinger's Art of Jewish Cooking suggests two dinner menus, recipes included: "Pesach (Festival of Passover)...(1) Half grapefruit, Celery and olives, Gefilte fish with beet horseradish, Meat borsch, Roast pullet, Fresh asparagus, Potato kugel, Hearts of lettuce with Russian dressing, Passover macaroons, Assorted nuts, Matzos, Tea or black coffee. (2) Spanish melon, Chicken soup with knaidlach, Pot roast with vegetables, Matzoh farfel, Honeyed carrots, Cole slaw, Sponge cake, Matzos, Fresh fruit bowl, Tea or black coffee." (p. 216) ---Art of Jewish Cooking, Jennie Grossinger [Random House:New York] 1958

[1969]
"How many times have you heard, 'Passover isn't kept the way it's supposed to be anymore,' or 'If this continues, we'll be buying everything for {esach'? Of coruse neither of these statements is vald but perhaps an explanation is in order. In the shtetlach (small towns) of Europe and in the many ghettos of the world where Jews were segregatd during the almost two-thousand-year Diaspora, keeping a kosher home was an exercise in self-discipline and devotion. To keep the food regulations of Passover in these alien surroundings has been even more difficult. The byword has always been, 'When in doubt, don't use it.' Thus, until very recent times the observant homemaker was forced to forgo many foods that might have brightened her menus. To make sure that no food contained chometz, she limited her selection to simple basic foods, the origin of which were beyond doubt...Today it is possible to have Rabbinical supervision over many Passover foods. The homemaker can choose from a resplendent variety of products providing not only traditional dishes like ready-to-serve gefilte fish, borscht, soups, and matzos, but also and array of cake mixes, prepared cakes and cookies, pareve margarine, catsup, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, potato-pancake mix, pickles, processed herring products, canned fish like salmon and tuna, ice cream and sherbet, candies, potato chips, and many others...So do not let yourself be shaken and doubtful...Pasover is not a sacrifice--it is a celebration. And the meals served should reflect the festive mood. Take advantage of the food variety at your disposal, use imagination in planning menus, and follow the same rules of good nutrition that apply during the rest of the year. Never serve the same food more than once in a meal. If you plan tomato juice as an appetizer, do not use tomato sauce on the meat. A well-constructed meal should have a variety in texture, flavor, color, and temperature. A meal in which everything is baked, or broiled, or boiled, or fried is dull and uninteresting."
--- The Manischewitz Passover Cookbook, Deborah Ross (aka Edith G. Stoffer, director of home economics for the B. Manischewitz Company) [Walker and Company:New York] 1969 (p. 24-25)[NOTE: This 186 page book offers dozens of suggested menus for all meals (Seder, lunch, dinner, breakfast) accompanied by recipes. The company subsequently offered free Passover Recipe Guides containing some of these items.]

[1970]
Gourmet twist on traditional fare: "Passover, with all its dietary restrictions, poses a challenge to many Jewish homemakers. Mrs. [Bessie] Feffer has developed several recipes ovr the years for dishes that are different but still kosher. Her first seder meal witll include gefilte fish, chicken soup with marrow-bone matzoh balls, potted cornish hens with shallots and white wine, asparagus, beets in lemon sauce with slivered almonds and a seven-layer chocolate cake...For the second Seder, Mrs. Feffer is planning a menu of salmon with lemon sauce, borsct, meat-stuffed veal, new potatoes, string beans, mixed salad and baked apples with apricot glaze. A special spinach and cheese dish will probably be on the luncheon menu several times during Passover."
---"Seder Menu: Traditional but Different, Jean Hewitt, New York Times, April 16, 1970 (p. 51) [Includes recipe for the Seven layer chocolate cake.]

[1988]
Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Kitchen, new and expanded edition, offers Passover recipes (p. 233-306). Seder menus are offered on p. 238:

"Traditional American (Based on The Settlement Cook Book): Chicekn Soup with Matzah Balls, Honey-Orange Chicken, New Potatoes with Chopped Parsley, Fresh Asparagus, Honey-Glazed Carrots, Salade a Ma Facon, Matzah Almond Torte, Syran Stuffed Prunes.
"Russian: Gefilte Fish, Chicken Soup with Matsah Balls, Passover Tsimmes, Potatoes, Green Salad, Passover Popovers, Passover Apple Blintzes, Passover Lemon Sponge Cake.
"Mixed Sephardic: Egg-Lemon Soup, Veal with Artichokes, Asparagus, Syrian Stuffed Prunes, Rice, Fresh Fruit, Almond Macaroons.
"Mixed Ashkenazic: Gefilte Fishballs, Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls, Roast Turkey with Matzah Stuffing, MRs. Feinberg's Vegetable Kugel, Tossed Green Salad, Krimsel with Stewed Prunes, Chocolate Souffle Roll.
"San Franciscan Chef: Joyce Goldstein's Pickled Salmon, Patty Unterman's Potato Kuglettes, Joyce Goldstein's Cornish Hens with Apricots, Tomatoes, and Spices, Stir-Fried Greens, Barbara Tropp's Pecan-Ginger Torte."


About these notes: Food history can be a complicated topic. These notes are not meant to be a comprehensive treatment of the subject, but a summary of salient points supported with culinary evidence. If you need more information we suggest you start by asking your librarian to help you find the books and articles cited in these notes. Article databases are good for locating current recipes, consumer trends, and new products.
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14 July 2013