Skip to main content


Matzo Balls, Chopped Liver, and the Midwest Jewish Foodways of the Heartland

Throughout the Midwest, one finds numerous ethnicities and creeds, each of which has contributed much to the amalgam that has become “the Heartland.” Jewish immigrants from all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America who settled here added their unique heritage foods and recipes to this mix. However, many of these dishes did not necessarily remain the same as they had been when prepared elsewhere in the world. In fact, they often developed a distinctive Midwestern flavor. Join Dr. Ellen Steinberg, author of From the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of Midwest Foodways, as she explores the fascinating evolution of Midwestern Jewish cuisine. Copies of Dr. Steinberg’s book will be available for sale and signing. A sampling of family recipes will be served by chef Gabriella Verbovsky.

Dr. Steinberg was born and raised in Chicago and currently lives in River Forest. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has published a number of scholarly articles related to her anthropological work. Some of her research was featured in the video “Mystery of the Skulls,” which aired on the Discovery Channel. Dr. Steinberg is also the author of several other books, including Teach Me: An Ethnography of Adolescent Learning, Irma: A Chicago Woman’s Story 1871-1966, and Learning to Cook in 1898: A Chicago Culinary Memoir.

To reserve tickets for this event, please call David Farris at 312-286-8781 or email your reservation to Please note that an RSVP is required, seating is limited, and CDC members will receive priority consideration. (If you have RSVP’d and cannot make it, please call and let us know.)

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.