Younger folks discovering the food-spirituality link

How intriguing that a biological imperative, eating, has deep spiritual and communal reverberations in our Jewish tradition. And it’s not just among bubbes. Steve Rossen, a lay leader at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El and its Young Adult Community group, is a single professional with some thoughts on the role of dining in Judaism.

“We are given a tremendous opportunity to feel grateful for what has been given to us, through sanctification rituals before eating and saying grace afterwards,” he writes.

An avid foodie, he complains that when he cooks, he rushes through the preparation process, creates a disproportionately large mess and wolfs down the result without another thought. He is grateful that our Jewish tradition asks us to slow down a bit, to think about how sustaining and satisfying and just plain pleasing it all is.

He is also appreciative that we as Jews are asked to recognize all the other people involved in getting that food to our bellies. The extension, of course, is that everything, not just food, comes from somewhere or someone else, and that we’re all intimately linked to the others in the chain — from the fellow who grew the food, the next one who labored to harvest it, the next guy who got it to market, the next who sold it, to the one who prepares it, to the family and friends who come together to bless and eat it and ultimately to God.

Yeva Johnson’s Halibut | Serves 8

3 Tbs. olive oil

8 medium halibut fillets

(about 4 oz. each)

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. sweet paprika

Heat the olive oil on a grill or pan large enough to hold all the fish. Place the halibut in the pan and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Cook the fish for about 3 or 4 minutes, then turn over. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve warm with Lemon Butter Sauce.

Lemon Butter Sauce | Makes about 1 cup

1 clove garlic, through

the press

1 Tbs. chopped rosemary

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup lemon juice

8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into

small pieces

Put the garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a small pot. Heat gently and mix well. Turn off the heat, swirl in the butter piece by piece and stir until well blended.

Reheat very slowly to serve.

Cabbage and Carrot Salad | Serves 8

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbs. sugar

zest of 2 limes

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbs. sesame oil

1 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. grated ginger

1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce

1 Tbs. salt

1 small cabbage, finely

shredded (about 11/2 lbs.)

11/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and

finely shredded

6 green onions, finely chopped

1 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, Tabasco and salt until well blended. Toss in the cabbage, carrots and green onions and mix well until the vegetables are well coated.

Garnish with the sesame seed. Serve slightly chilled.

Mango and Pistachio Mousse | Serves 8

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

3 egg yolks

4 oz. unsalted butter, melted

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

1 mango, finely chopped

1/4 cup pistachios, finely


Heat the honey to boiling. Beat together the egg and egg yolks. Beat in the boiling honey, and continue beating until the eggs have cooled and become thick and pale.

Pour in the melted butter. Fold in the whipped cream, then the chopped mango and pistachios. Pour into ramekins. Serve well chilled.

Rebeca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to J. or to