In 1938, Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania, published a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook unlike any that had come before. Its 400 recipes ranged from traditional Jewish dishes (kugel, blintzes, fruit compote, borscht) to vegetarian versions of Jewish holiday staples (cholent, kishke, schnitzel) to appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts that introduced vegetables and fruits that had not traditionally been part of the repertoire of the Jewish homemaker. Also included were impassioned essays by Lewando and by a physician about the benefits of vegetarianism.
Accompanying the recipes were lush full-color drawings of vegetables and fruit that had originally appeared on bilingual (Yiddish and English) seed packets. Lewando's cookbook was sold throughout Europe.
Lewando and her husband died during World War II, and it was assumed that all but a few family-owned and archival copies of her cookbook vanished along with most of European Jewry. But in 1995 a couple attending an antiquarian book fair in England came upon a copy of Lewando's cookbook. Recognizing its historical value, they purchased it and donated it to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City.