Hello, shalom, zdrastvutie. I'm Zoya Brumberg, an Austin-based scholar of American Studies and self-taught home chef. I got into cooking around the time that I moved to Austin for my PhD, in large part because so many restaurant foods I took for granted in my former homes of Chicago, New York, and Providence were not readily available here. I was prepared to make matzo brei and borsch, but I had no idea I would be searching for congealed pig's blood to make my favorite Vietnamese soup Bun Bo Hue—a regional specialty of at least three restaurants in my old Chicago neighborhood. I cooked, and ate, and traveled, and read. Somewhere along the way, my love of East and Southeast Asian cuisines became intrinsic to my love of cooking and my American Studies research. And perhaps unexpectedly, studying and eating my way through Asian American history has helped me learn more about my own family and how we eat. Becoming comfortable with unfamiliar ingredients and cooking techniques has enriched the way that I approach cooking the foods of my childhood.
Did you know Koreans are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Russia, and that Russian ferments were probably adapted from kimchis? That the beloved Jewish golubtsi (stuffed cabbage) came from dolma as Jews migrated from the Middle East to Eastern Europe? Or that there is a Hong Kong borsch? That many Chinese American restaurants created many iconic chicken dishes in part for Jewish clientele in the Catskills?
I started "Kimchi and Kishke" as a recipe blog where I could share histories of migration and cultural interchange through food. The recipes I post here are based on the flavors and recipes from my Ashkenazi Jewish American parents and immigrant grandparents. From my grandparents’ home “Moscow on the Patomac” to Vietnamese Uptown in Chicago to the Italian and Cambodian communities of my hometown Providence to Chinatowns across America—these are recipes I’ve developed along the way. They aren’t Jewish foods or recipes explicitly. And they definitely aren't Kosher—I eat so much pork! Though I love to cook and eat regional Asian cuisines, I don’t think it is my place to focus exclusively on blogging and sharing the heritage recipes I learned from members of these communities. When I borrow specific recipes or techniques, I credit the chefs and scholars and home cooks who taught them to me, so you too can learn from them.
The more I read about the recipes I grew up eating, the more I learn about the vastness of the Jewish diaspora, of the breadth of the trade routes between Asia and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and of the many connections between the foods of my people and their influences from around the world. Jews are, after all, the “wandering” people.