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Israeli Food & Wine Editor to Offer Talk & Taste

13 November 2014 No Comment

Janna Gur. Photo by: Dan Perez

Northern Virginia “j.talks,” conversations with authors and artists, will host Janna Gur to the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Gur is the editor of Israel’s premier food and wine magazine Al Hashulchan (“On the Table”), and is touring limited sites in the United States to share her new cookbook Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh, More Than 100 Unforgettable Dishes Updated for Today’s Kitchen.

The 100 diversely-flavored recipes included are the dishes that, though rooted in their original provenance, have been embraced by Israelis from throughout the Diaspora and have become part of Israel’s culinary landscape. Gur will demonstrate and offer a tasting of Moroccan spicy fish ragù and sabzi polo, which is a rice pilaf lots of fresh herbs.

This event is supported by a grant from The Jewish Food Experience, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Over thousands of years, Jews all over the world developed cuisines suited to their needs but also that reflected the influences of their neighbors and carried memories from past wanderings.

Gur was born in Riga (Latvia), in the former Soviet Union. While studying for her master’s degree, she worked as a flight attendant for El-Al Airlines. This provided her the opportunity to travel the world and sparked her interest in gastronomy. In 1984 she met her husband, Ilan Gur, a journalist and an independent publisher.

In 1991, one month before the first Gulf War broke, the couple launched Al Hashulchan (“On the Table”) magazine, with Janna Gur as chief editor. Originally conceived as a modest trade magazine for food professionals, the magazine quickly became popular among amateur cooks and foodies. Together with its audience, Al Hashulchan changed, becoming the premier food and wine magazine for general public, according to a press release issued by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia.

Gur has also started The Treasure Box Project: Preserving Jewish Ethnic Cuisine. She believes that because so many Jewish communities have been lost during times of war, communities that are left are too small to sustain their own culinary heritage.

“Israel (and to a certain extent North America with its vibrant Jewish culture) bears the responsibility of safeguarding this plethora of culinary wisdom,” says Gur. “But how? Food is easily the most difficult aspect of culture to preserve. You can record sound, texts and images, but how do you document smells and flavors? Recipes are just flowcharts, unable to convey the richness and excitement of the prepared dish. Recipes, however, are all I have at my disposal. The rest is up to you –- if you choose to prepare these dishes and share them with your friends and family, you are helping keep ethnic culinary tradition alive.”

Dan Kirsch, the J’s Cultural Arts Director, was able to arrange this program with the help of the Jewish Book Council.

This event is supported by a grant from The Jewish Food Experience, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

JFE is a project launched in December 2012 that brings people together through the language of Jewish food, which is so much a part of Jewish culture and tradition. On the JFE site, local foodies including chefs, restaurateurs, wine experts, food critics and writers share recipes with modern twists, the latest about the local Jewish food scene, volunteer efforts to fight hunger, food-related events and recipes that include locally-sourced and organic options as well as vegetarian, gluten-free and other dietary alternatives.

In addition, JFE promotes a variety of events throughout the year in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and offers ways to connect through contests and cook-offs, tastings, demonstrations, embassy programs and more. The JFE seeks to build partnerships and cooperative projects with other community organizations and businesses including restaurants, markets, synagogues, social groups, food banks, food cooperatives and farms.

Northern Virginia j.talks curates conversations with authors and artists, and is a program of the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. The mission of the JCCNV Cultural Arts Department is to demonstrate, illuminate and celebrate the breadth and depth of Judaism’s culture, identity, creativity, diversity and resiliency through the performing, visual and literary arts.

Northern Virginia j.talks will host Israeli food and wine magazine editor Janna Gur on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $12, $9 for J members or seniors (65+) and those younger than 30. The event will be held at the JCCNV, 8900 Little River Turnpike in Fairfax.

JCCNV Cultural Arts programming is partially funded by the JCCNV Arts Fund and the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

For more information about the JCCNV Performing Arts Series or Northern Virginia j.talks, visit the website or call the JCCNV box office at (703) 537-3000.

By: Contributing Author

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