Monday Morning Cooking Club: The Feast Goes On

The Monday Morning Cooking Club is a sisterhood of six friends who have met together every Monday since 2006 to cook together. The six are based in Sydney, but bring with them a wide variety of recipes spanning the globe: Merelyn comes from Perth, with Hungarian heritage. Jacqui started her life on the Sydney north shore with an English background. Lisa is from Melbourne, of Polish stock. Lauren immigrated as a child from Pretoria, South Africa. Natanya is a Sydney girl with Shanghai/Russian roots, and Paula is from Durban, South Africa, starting her life in Sydney as a newlywed.

At first, their goal was to compile a cookbook to raise money for charity, but it soon became a quest to compile the best recipes from Sydney’s best Jewish cooks. Their first cookbook, “Monday Morning Cooking Club,” was released in 2010, and “The Feast Goes On” follows largely the same format and is the perfect complement to the first volume, this time expanding the search for recipes to all corners of Australia and beyond.

The book opens with a brief “Kitchen Notes” section explaining measurements (all recipes were tested using metric measurements, with a metric cup (250ml/ ¾ fl oz) and a teaspoon equal to 5ml). Weighing ingredients is strongly encouraged for the cake, biscuit and pastry recipes.

Recipes are divided into Lunchtime, Everyday, Comfort, Feasting, Fressing (from the Yiddish word for snack), and Tradition. Each section features a wide range of culinary influence and the (family) story behind each recipe; you’ll find flavors from every corner of the Diaspora, including Middle Eastern salads and pastries, Greek meatballs, Asian-inspired fish, stuffed cabbage rolls, Hungarian favorites like rakott krumpli and goulash, Central Asian dips, and elegant European pastries next to more familiar Ashkenzi favorites (gefilte fish, cholent, blintzes, tzimmes). Gluten-free recipes are marked as applicable, and a glossary lists recipes by type as well as contributor.

Beautiful full-page illustrations and photos of the various contributors and their families by photographer Alan Benson bring the recipes to vibrant life; the stories are every bit as much an essential ingredient as the foods they appear next to, stories of “survival and success, families and friends, loss and recovery; tales of grandmothers and daughters, of mothers and aunts, of fathers and friends.” The book’s clean layout (I loved the ribbon detail on the page edges) makes it easy to cook from, and I loved that both metric and imperial measurements were retained as I prefer to use the original metric measurements and measure by weight for the best result.

This is a beautiful cookbook that I will find myself cooking from frequently, not only for the wide range of international recipes but for the unique stories as well that paint a rich tapestry of the Jewish experience from around the globe, brought together in a single Sydney kitchen by a unique sisterhood united by their love of cooking and preserving Jewish food culture for future generations.

In the words of the MMCC girls, “may you and your friends and family feel nurtured, nourished and loved just from the eating. May our stories inspire, engage and move you, and give you a unique insight into our extraordinary community.”

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