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March 7, 2018 10:43 AM   Subscribe

"It’s not a list of the most popular Jewish foods, or the tastiest, or the most enduring. In fact, a number of the dishes on this list are no longer cooked or served with any regularity—at least not in the home kitchens or communal spaces where they originated—and the edibility of many others is... well, let’s say it’s up for debate. The point, instead, was to think about which foods contain the deepest Jewish significance—the ones that, through the history of our people (however you date it), have been most profoundly inspired by the rhythms of the Jewish calendar and the contingencies of the Jewish experience. That many of them are also delicious is obvious, and Darwinian: It’s how they survived as long as they did." Tablet Magazine: The 100 Most Jewish Foods
posted by everybody had matching towels (33 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 


I'm suddenly very hungry.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:58 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


That is a seriously annoying interface, sadly.
posted by tavella at 11:00 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


Kiddish cookies! It took me a very long time to figure out that most of my childhood favorites were actually Italian in origin (because suburban New Jersey). In any case, I now own a kick-ass pair of Italian Rainbow Cookie earrings made by a friend who makes polymer clay (mostly, but not exclusively Jewish) food jewelry.
posted by damayanti at 11:04 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


That is a seriously annoying interface, sadly.

There is also an alphabetical list, if you are not into spinning the table.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:08 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


The kugel that you grew up with, with the cottage cheese and the noodles and the pineapple and sugar and raisins? I hate to break it to you, but that is a shitty representation of Jewish food.

Fight me, Michael Solomonov. (He's not wrong of course. I have fond memories of my mom's sweet noodle kugel with raisins and cottage cheese and brown sugar, but it's not like I'm ever tempted to make it myself. I once did make it and brought it to a Passover potluck and everyone was like "oh you brought kugel! my mom made kugel like that too!" and politely ate exactly one bite. But still, fight me.)
posted by lunasol at 11:17 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I'm suddenly very hungry.

I'm very lucky to work across the street from a very good upscale Jewish deli/restaurant. In fact, I went there for lunch today! They make some excellent chopped liver covered in schmaltz and gribenes which is only through sheer force of will that I don't eat every day.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:26 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I have a lot to say.

1. Bacon. Really?
2. Sweet n Low. Come on.
3. Drone bees don't get split in half. They get their penises yanked out with their sperm sacs.
4. I agree that halvah is haimish, but it's also one of the worst things I've ever tasted.
5. I am FASCINATED by eyerlekh! I know that when butchering chickens, I've found plenty of them. Did I know they were once a Jewish delicacy? No!!! Why? I guess because I'm not 90, but still...
6. This list was created on the east coast, as most Jewish lists are.
7. Corned beef? Pastrami? Nu? I know they're in the section on deli, but they deserve to be one of the 100 more than fucking Sweet n Low.
8. WHERE ARE THE HOLISHKES????
9. Hard boiled eggs and egg salad. Missing like a kippah that fell off walking home from shul.

I have distilled this list into 9 things. I am willing to fight about any of them. Or any of the things you'd like to fight about.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:27 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


I don’t know, I definitely associate Sweet n Low with my grandparents. That, like so much of the stuff on this list reads like a generational thing, probably centered around New York. For me, half my family is New York Jews, and this list had the surprising effect of making me a little sad for the memories of relatives who are no longer with us. They were the ones who did the kind of quirky stuff that’s on this list here and there. I mean, I know this list is lighthearted (“Bacon is Voldemort”), but it honestly brings back bittersweet memories.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:10 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


A lot of the list does feel generational. Maybe specifically East Coast generational? But so many items on the list remind me of my own grandmother, who was not Jewish but did have quite a few Jewish friends. Margarine, Sweet n Low, rye bread (every morning! and for an afternoon snack, spread with margarine), pickled herring (always in sour cream, with onions!), Entenmann's...

Does anyone happen to have a dynamite chopped liver recipe? I fell in love with the version an ex's family made, but after that relationship ended, so did my chopped liver hookup, and I didn't manage to get the recipe, and I've hankered after it ever since. It's such a pure and simple thing and yet I can never get it quite right. (I can swap you a recipe for my own preferred version of Jacob's pottage, which while maybe not-quite-birthright-worthy is still pretty excellent.)
posted by halation at 12:41 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


They have gefilte fish on the list which is strange as it is not a food, it is a spackling compound.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:48 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


halation, we have a family friend who makes great chopped liver. I will try to remember to get the recipe from her. I wouldn’t mind trying to make it myself.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:51 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I once did make it and brought it to a Passover potluck

If you brought noodle kugel to Pesach dinner, there might have been other reasons people didn't eat it...
posted by jackbishop at 1:16 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Flashback to SNL, October 2011: Andy Samberg as a Jewish Willy Wonka escorts a starving-from-Yom-Kippur-fasting Ben Stiller to a magical world of Jewish food: "It's every taste you've ever dreamed of, from salty to fishy!"
posted by mosk at 1:39 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Gefilte fish is not spackle. It’s cat food. My cat concurs! (Actually, I rather like gefilte fish, though not with jelled broth- things with that texture make me want to heave)
posted by Anne Neville at 1:50 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I think I may be the only person in the world who likes gefilte fish but did not grow up eating it (I converted to Judaism).
posted by Anne Neville at 1:53 PM on March 7


I am very, very happy with the inclusion of Stella D'Oro Swiss Fudge Cookies, and especially happy that they included the Great Dairy Debacle of 2002.
posted by Mchelly at 2:08 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I, too, associate Sweet 'n' Low completely with my grandmother, and therefore it gets grandmothered in to the Jewish food category. But it's possible that if I were Italian, I would still associate it with my grandmother and therefore think about it as Italian food. I think it may be grandmother food, if you're a Gen Xer with a particular kind of grandmother, rather than specifically Jewish food.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:53 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Gefilte fish with white horse radish (none of that watered down weak purple stuff please) is faaaantastic.

Also this list is missing: Danish and Chopped Herring, Perogen and Pareve Coffee Ice Cream
posted by PenDevil at 2:58 PM on March 7


Does anyone happen to have a dynamite chopped liver recipe?

Funny you should ask! I just made chopped liver for the first time last week, from my grandmother-in-law's recipe, and it turned out great. It's super simple, too:

1 lb. chicken livers, 1 lb. diced onions, 6 hard boiled eggs, olive oil. Cut livers into smallish chunks and cut off any greenish bile. Heat oil in skillet. Saute onions over high heat until they start to brown, ~5 minutes. Add livers and cook, turning occasionally, until firm, ~5 minutes. Dump liver, onions, and eggs into a food processor and chop until consistency is even but not pureed. Add salt, pepper, or garlic to taste.

(I'm a complete idiot in the kitchen, and even I can make this tasty. I don't know if that counts as "dynamite", but it's definitely "resilient".)

and yes the only people i know who use sweet'n'low are new york jews over the age of 60
posted by phooky at 3:03 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


They have gefilte fish on the list which is strange as it is not a food, it is a spackling compound.

One of the last things Oliver Sacks ever wrote was a lovely piece on gefilte fish. So I am willing to believe it can be a tasty food, but the only kind I've seen is jarred and is horrible.
posted by tavella at 3:19 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I've had very good gefilte fish, but I don't know where it came from. I bought a jar of some to go with latkes one night a couple months ago, and it was absolutely terrible. I would love to know where I can get the good stuff.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:59 PM on March 7


But it's possible that if I were Italian, I would still associate it with my grandmother and therefore think about it as Italian food. I think it may be grandmother food, if you're a Gen Xer with a particular kind of grandmother, rather than specifically Jewish food.

Yeah, I think that's true, but personally, I like thinking of it as a cross-cultural thing, where it gets to be Jewish food AND Italian food AND, I don't know, the food of the elderly generation in Montana. There's such a strong association with the older Jewish people in my life that I like thinking of it as a cultural trait shared by many, rather than just a generational thing. If that makes any sense.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:06 PM on March 7


At first glance I thought this wheel was awesome- But then I clicked on a couple of the foods and realized they did not lead to recipes; Just some little quirky snippets.

Change some of the foods on the list and add recipes and the wheel will spread around shuls like wildfire. Otherwise, it's just meh.
posted by fantasticness at 4:42 PM on March 7


Just realized there's no entry on latkes. I take back everything nice I had to say about this piece.

Feh.
posted by Mchelly at 4:45 PM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Now we're getting somewhere. Who do these people think they are, anyway? Who died and made them the big fressers?
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:52 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


If you brought noodle kugel to Pesach dinner, there might have been other reasons people didn't eat it...

Oops, yeah, it was a Yom Kippur fast breaking dinner. I am a cultural Jew at best!
posted by lunasol at 4:55 PM on March 7


So a friend of mine grew up in a Reform Jewish family where his dad's main religious responsibility was to bring home a challah every Friday. So one Friday night they're waiting, and they're waiting, and he doesn't come home. And this was before cell phones, so after another hour went by, they started to really worry. And he finally comes home holding this tiny, pathetic challah and he's really upset. And he says how he went to the grocery store where he always went, but they had no challahs left, and so he went to the next one, and the next, and even went to a bakery, and he was really sorry but this sad little challah was all he could find.

And there was a long pause before my friend's mom finally said, "Oh for G-d's sake, Don, it's Passover."

Which is the go-to catchphrase for cluelessness in his house to this day.
posted by Mchelly at 5:11 PM on March 7 [14 favorites]


FWIW, kosher chopped liver and liver paté necessarily have different tastes and textures. Jewish dietary laws require that liver be initially prepared by broiling it over an open fire. This will make it drier (and perhaps tastier) than sautéed liver; the missing liquid is traditionally compensated for by using schmaltz (the rendered fat from chickens or other domestic fowl) together with sautéed onions.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:11 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I'm quite fond of gefilte fish, even the jarred Manischewitz variety, but I agree that this is one of those tastes that requires...acquiring. Noodle kugel, however, I have never been able to stomach (much too sweet); potato kugel is fine.

I do miss being near a good supply of matzoh ball soup and latkes. Speaking of which:

Just realized there's no entry on latkes.

They're mentioned under potatoes.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:21 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


When I moved to NYC I discovered salmon gefilte fish at Zabars. Highly recommended for those whose previous experience was limited to jarred manischevitz.

Sophie1, there's a listing for stuffed cabbage.

I don't know where my mother bought her flanken, but it always had bone chips.
posted by brujita at 6:05 PM on March 7


They have gefilte fish on the list which is strange as it is not a food, it is a spackling compound.

FIGHT ME

jk I'm aware the stuff is divisive, but dad just the other day defrosted the frozen gefilte fish you can get at molly stones and cooked it for an hour with an onion and carrots, put it in the fridge cooked and then the next day we ate it cold and it was fucking delish. Also, looking forward to the stuff in jelly for passover. Honestly it's 80% of what I eat at the seder. But I am fully aware I am weird.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:24 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


What brand do you buy? I feel like that must matter. I can't remember the brand that I bought a couple months ago, but it was just awful, and this is coming from someone who generally loves gefilte fish.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:44 PM on March 7


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