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Shannon Sarna refers to herself as a pizza bagel

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I'm a pizza bagel (or a "matzo-rella" stick, depending on your preference), by which I mean I am Italian and Jewish — specifically, Sicilian and Eastern European Ashkenazi — which heavily influences everything I do in the kitchen. Italian- and Jewish-Americans (and especially those of us from New York) have much in common: guilt, family, tradition, and of course, a passion for food.

While no food writer speaks for an entire culture, it's important to note that "Jewish food" in particular is not a monolith. My family hails from Poland and Ukraine, which influences my palate and cooking style. And while many Americans are most familiar with Eastern European-inspired Jewish food, the Jewish people have lived in or been exiled to wide-ranging lands all over the world, including Syria, Tunisia, Lithuania, Yemen, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Iran, and Mexico — just to name a few. Much as I love matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches, and babka, there are so many other uniquely Jewish-American dishes, and stories, to tell.

My own background and the desire to tell the diverse, ever-evolving story of Jewish food inspired me to launch The Nosher in 2011, which is now the largest, most wide-reaching Jewish food site on the internet. Creating a space for Jews of diverse backgrounds to connect to their identity through food spoke deeply to my own experience; and educating a wider audience about the multitude of Jewish culinary traditions is paramount to what we do.

But let's not forget about my incredibly delicious Italian side. My mom taught me to slice up eggplant, salt it lightly and lay it out on brown paper bags to remove the excess moisture before frying for eggplant parmesan, to cook and taste small piece of meatball before the whole lot to make sure they were seasoned properly, to slowly stir the alfredo sauce in order to decadently coat a steaming pile of tortellini. And it........

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