Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

A thesis submitted to Technological University Dublin in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts in Gastronomy and Food Studies, May 2021.


This research examines the historical development of a distinctly Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine from its roots in the Alsace region of France, through the Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe, and the mass immigration to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. The aim of the research was to come to an understanding of how global perception of what is considered to be quintessentially Jewish food (as evidenced in American Jewish delicatessens, Jewish homes, and in popular culture) has been shaped by developments in Alsace. Long standing views were held that Ashkenazi food developed in Eastern Europe, specifically Poland and the former Russian Empire. While aspects of the cuisine were adapted after migration, this research demonstrates that a number of key dishes in the Ashkenazi tradition can be traced back to the Alsace region of present-day France, a territory of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire in the early medieval period when the Jewish community developed. Through a combination of desk research, oral history interviews, and analysis of recipe collections and delicatessen menus from New York, links between Alsace, Eastern Europe, and America were investigated and developed to determine the historical provenance of Ashkenazi food. The findings show that eight key dishes that are considered to be quintessential to Ashkenazi tradition developed or were adapted in Alsace, migrated to Eastern Europe with members of the Jewish community seeking refuge in the Polish commonwealth, and eventually crossed the Atlantic with further waves of migration. The research demonstrates how some of the most iconic Jewish foods that became signifiers through popular culture have their origins in Alsace in the early Middle Ages.