Between Cholent and Feijoada: Food-ways of the Jewish mother in Brazil

K Ayalon-Brustein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Jewish people immigrated en masse from Eastern Europe to the 'New World'. Jews left the traditional 'Shtetl' in an attempt to improve their and their family's lives. Brazil was one of the immigration destinations. The nature of Jewish immigration, according to which the father immigrated first and then was followed by the wife and children, changed the structure of the Jewish family beyond recognition, positioning the Jewish mother as the pillar of the family. When Jewish mothers arrived in Brazil, they continued to face poverty similar to what they had endured back in Europe. As they were used to feeding their families in conditions of poverty, they began to cook Brazilian 'poor people's food' just as they had done in their countries of origin, such as stews with potatoes and beets. But they also had to give up certain ingredients due to observance of kosher laws, and to adopt new ingredients that are not common in Eastern Europe, such as cassava flour. The figure of the 'YiddisheMame' also symbolizes the economic establishment and the socio-cultural transformation that the Jews went through in Brazil, where the Jewish mother gave her place in the kitchen to the housekeeper and went to study and work. Jewish food's place became special and festive, food that is cooked in the mother's or grandmother's kitchen as a significant expression of Judaism for the Jewish-Brazilian diaspora. This article presents the food-ways of the Jewish mother in Brazil over the years, and through it outlines the formation of the Jewish-Brazilian Diaspora.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number32
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Times Cited in Web of Science Core Collection: 0 Total Times Cited: 0 Cited Reference Count: 37


  • Jewish immigration
  • Food-ways
  • Jewish food

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