What is the quintessential Jewish food? From bagels and baked beans (!) to chicken soup and schmaltz, find out the fascinating stories behind Jewish foods at two events co-sponsored by JFE in February.

The artery-clogging deliciousness of schmaltz, rendered chicken fat, takes center stage on Thursday, February 6, at 7:30 pm when author and food writer Michael Ruhlman talks about his new book, The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat.

 For certain dishes, nothing imparts flavor like schmaltz. It’s been a traditional ingredient in Jewish cooking for centuries, but has fallen out of favor—unnecessarily, argues Ruhlman—as Americans have become increasingly concerned about fat and eat less home-cooked meals. Ruhlman investigates the flavor possibilities of schmaltz, and the class even includes a taste of schmaltz on rye.

The book talk, part of the DCJCC’s Authors Out Loud series, is at the DCJCC, 1529 16th Street at Q NW. Register here for the event, which is part of the DCJCC Authors Out Loud series. (And speaking of schmaltz, check out the recipe for a Warm Schmaltz Vinaigrette coming next Thursday.)

Now that we know about the joys of schmaltz, we are onto bigger questions. Is chicken soup, nicknamed “Jewish penicillin” by comedians, actually of Jewish origin? Where did the knish and hot dog come from?

These questions and more are the focus of Origins of Jewish Food, presented by the Jewish Study Center and co-sponsored by JFE and Hill Havurah, on Sunday, February 9, at 4:00 pm. Michael Bloom, chaplain of Jewish War Veterans and author of several books, will let us know if baked beans are actually a traditional Jewish food, what is “Jewish champagne” and more in this taste of the often strange, but fascinating history of Jewish cuisine.

The class will be held at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. For more information and to register for this class, visit the Jewish Study Center’s website.

Stay up to date about more food-related programs, classes and events on the JFE Event Calendar.