Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts
Several years ago, my daughter Heidi and I published a book called FAIRY
TALE FEASTS. She is a great cook and I am a pretty good reteller of folk
tales. The book became successful and iconic which means it sold enough
copies to make everyone happy, and no one else had done anything like it
in the field. So when the publisher–Interlink, a small local press that was
well known for its cookbooks and folk tale books—who’d already had a
great success with a Jewish cookbook for adults was approached by one of
his best customers to ask us if we would do a Jewish Fairy Tales Feast, we
were intrigued. Heidi and I are Jewish, though not religious, and it was a
wonderful opportunity for me to delve deeply into Jewish folklore and for
her to haul out some of her great grandmother’s and great aunts’s recipes, as
well as recipes of friends, and to go through the many Jewish cookbooks she
It took us about two years to complete the book. Everyone—Heidi’s two
daughters, all the neighbors, any long-distance friends who volunteered
(hi Susannah!) and I got to be taste testers. (I sure do love blintzes!) The
illustrator that the publisher’s Canadian co-publisher found had just the right
flavor, which a story cookbook needs. The book has gotten great reviews
And Heidi has served a lot of meals and treats at bookstores.
- Canadian Children’s Book Centre starred and listed in Spring Edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens 2013
Around the Web:
- A six-year-old reviews FTF for the San Francisco Book Review.
- A Jewish mother learns to cook chicken soup.
- The Jewish Ledger interviewed Heidi and me.
- Here’s a review in Washington Jewish Week.
- JWeekly likes the book.
What reviewers have said:
- “Is it a cookbook or a story collection? It’s both — the unusual format of this handsome book will appeal to families who like good food and good stories. Noted storyteller Jane Yolen retells 18 Jewish tales (adding interesting tidbits about her source material on the final page of each story) followed by Stemple’s tasty recipes, which correspond to each story in obvious ways. The book is broken up into categories of brunch, soup, main courses and dessert. Each story is preceded by an appropriate Jewish saying, such as, “The reddest apple may have a worm,” which begins the Middle Eastern story of “The Three Skillful Brothers,” in which an apple plays an important role. For the upcoming holidays, “Two Jars of Honey” or “The Loaves in the Ark” would work nicely. Afterward, families can enjoy making honey cake or challah with the provided recipes. Later in the year, there are many other stories and correlated recipes to enjoy. It is nice to see that the authors have included Jewish ethnicities other than Ashkenazi. Young people can learn how to make shakshuka after hearing the story of Chaim, the yeshiva boy who comes back to an inn 25 years after eating an egg that he did not pay for. Pomegranate couscous is another surprise main course with kid appeal. Although the oversized book’s layout, design and colorful collage illustrations are particularly engaging for reading, it may be a bit cumbersome for the actual cook. Note to gift givers: The level of sophistication is high, and some of the stories are complex, so this book is recommended for well-seasoned readers age 10 and up.”—JewishJournal.com
- “Are you looking for a gift for a special birthday or bar/bat mitzvah? Look no
further. This is it! Master storyteller, Jane Yolen, searched the Jewish folktale landscape
and found eighteen stories—some well-known, others more obscure—but all told with
verve and originality.…Buy two copies—one as a cookbook, the other for your folktale collection. Bon appétit!”
—American Jewish Libraries review
- “A spin-off of Fairy Tale Feasts (Crocodile, 2006), this time featuring 18 Jewish folktales with related kid-friendly recipes. . . . While these stories and recipes can be used independent of each other in classroom and library settings, families will want to pore over them, savor them, and enjoy them to the fullest.”—School Library Journal
- “Renowned storyteller Jane Yolen and daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple are making magic again. They’ve written another cookbook for kids, and it’s delightful.”—Chicago Tribune
- “Finally, they cite an anonymous wit who summed up Jewish history this way: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” Indeed!”—Dana S. Whitney, Amazon reviews five stars
- “Veteran storyteller Yolen and her daughter Stemple combine Jewish folklore with culinary tradition in this selection of tales and correlating recipes sure to enhance a Jewish family’s celebrations.”—Kirkus
- “In this companion to Fairy Tale Feasts (2006), mother-daughter collaborators Yolen and Stemple offer stories and recipes reflecting Jewish culinary traditions. The 18 tales (adapted by Yolen) arise from folkloric sources and each reflects the dish with which it is paired (“The Loaves in the Ark” accompanies a recipe for challah, for example). Stemple’s recipes cover traditional fare, arranged by brunch, soup, main courses, and dessert. Each contribution is carefully sourced; Yolen notes story origins as well as changes she made, while Stemple clarifies the holidays and locales where these foods are typically served. Shefrin’s brightly colored mixed-media collages include full-page illustrations for each story and smaller spot art for the recipes. The overall effect is pleasing but not distracting. While some recipes are involved (especially blintzes), Stemple makes the point that this is a cookbook for kids—not a kid’s cookbook—making it most appropriate for families or other groups where adult direction is available.”–Booklist
- “This is a sumptuous book for all of the tales, recipes and the illustrations. The mother and daughter team of author and chef combine their talents to create a collection of Jewish folktales, with accompanying recipes bringing a gastronomic quality to storytelling!”—School Library Journal