Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, welcoming foodies to discuss the dining scenes in Israel and abroad, along with all things related to kosher food.
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The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:46 pm

Received an email communication today from a friend in Brooklyn. He wrote:

"Rogov: Enjoying a grilled chicken liver with onions, latke, breaded shnitzel and cold beer (Labatt Blue) lunch, and thought you'd like to hear some of us kids know what good stuff is!"

After reading that I cannot resist asking – what is the best "Jewish" meal you've had lately? And, if you haven't had one lately, the best you remember of the one you dream the most of having some day?

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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Stuart Yaniger » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:51 pm

Easy. My kasha varnishkes. They're a hybrid between Jewish and Italian, much like Enrico Fermi.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Doug Z » Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:34 am

corned beef on rye and a pickle, in nyc. 2 weeks ago.

passed on the dr brown's celery soda.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Avi Hein » Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:37 pm

That's easy! Chinese food! (Although I haven't had any lately - my favorite Jerusalem Chinese joint, is, like every other restaurant in the country, now a sushi place).

See this article: ""Safe Treyf": New York Jews and Chinese Food" - http://dragon.soc.qc.cuny.edu/Staff/levine/NYJews%20and%20Chinese.html
or this blog about why Jews love Chinese: http://www.fortunecookiechronicles.com/category/jews/
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shel T » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:55 pm

For the last umpteen years my Jewish food "fix" has been satisfied in various delis, mainly here in L.A., for those who may know the area, historic "Canter's", almost as well-known "Art's" and our local "Marv's" for takeout.
And admit I'm pretty conventional in what I order, bagel, lox and cream cheese, lox, eggs and onions, meat knish, derma (kishke), chopped liver and of course the various sandwiches, pastrami, corned beef and Reuben.
Getting hungry writing about it!
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:12 pm

I have no problem at all in admiting that some of my best "Jewish meals" have been taken at New York City Delis. A bit of loyalty is in order, however, so let me tell about three Tel Aviv joints (sorry......restaurants) that I enjoy thoroughly. First of all there is Batia. Located in the heart of the city, established shortly after Dizengoff Street was first paved but before anything had been built on the sand dunes opposite. Even though the restaurant underwent renovation a few years ago, it still bears a remarkable resemblance to a bombed-out railroad station. All of which is forgivable however, for the chicken soup here will cure not only what ails you today but will innoculate you against almost everything for the week after you have eaten it; the cholent is so thick and rich that it does not slide down the gullet to the stomach - rather it falls with great rapidity and yes, even bounces once it gets there. The kishke is so full of pepper, onion and chicken fat that it makes you want to cry for joy. The chopped chicken liver has just the right amounts of grebenes (goose-fat cracklings in this case) and is topped with browned fried onions that make you feel that wherever you were born, this is better. Because it is open on Friday nights and Saturdays, Batia is not kosher. And oh yes, one of the Arab waiters there truly does speek Yiddish.

And then there is Shmulik Cohen's. Long enough established that for several years the basement of the restaurant was a hiding place for those on the run from the British as well as a place to store Sten guns. Whatever, although Yiddish is the most accepted lingua franca here, Hebrew, English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Ladino and Russian are not uncommon and taken quite in stride. Everything at Shmulik Cohen's is good but the very best are the cholent (you will be sneered at if you ask for it without kishe), the roast goose and the calve's foot jelly.

Finally, Cafe Olga. A place so Jewish that the early birds here (present at 6 a.m. when the cafe opens) still mourn that they cannot get the Daily Fowards in Yiddish and where the goulash soup is so superb that it can warm you on a cold day, cure a broken heart, and make you fall in love with every girl/woman who chances to talk by if you happen to be a man. And if you're tired of goulash soup, go for the krupnik which is no less splendiferous.

As to the world of knishes, hot pastrami sandwiches and the like - not in Israel. Only in America.

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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shel T » Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:31 pm

Daniel, those Tel Aviv joints sound terrif, nothing remotely similar to them in L.A., and from a waistline and cholesterol POV, probably a damn good thing!
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:54 pm

Shel, Hi......

Indeed, the three places I named (and there are others as well) are now in the third generation of the same family and in their own way each a throwback to days long-gone by. A sense not only of "Jewishness" but of Yiddiskeit, perhaps the kind written about by people like Sholom Aleichem.

A fascinating note is that for many years such places were populated primarily by those above the age of 60, nearly all whom had immigrated from Eastern Europe. Starting about ten years ago they caught on with the young as well, a phenomenon I once compared to how 16 year olds of today are drawn to the music of The Beetles, Pete Seger, Leadbelly. And now the popularity has expanded, including not only Ashkenazi Jews but those of Sepharadi backgrounds as well. It is not unusual for example to find Ethiopian immigrants dining in these places.

There is a fascinating sociology of dining out going on here in Israel. Right now I am helping out two PhD students who are doing a joint dissertation on the cross-over and inner-guarding of cultures as represented by public eating habits. Fascinating stuff.

The fact does remain, however, that one cannot get a decent pastrami sandwich in all of Israel!!!!!!!

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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shel T » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:11 pm

LOL "One cannot get a decent pastrami sandwich in all of Israel"
Interesting paradox, didn't know that and apparently haven't thought much about it. Now, without researching it, I suppose the great "pastrami sandwich" has its origins in the U.S. probably Brooklyn, NYC or maybe Chicago.
What is for sure is that the same apparent cuisine can differ greatly from country to country. For example, when I was a London resident, hated their deli grub as it bore no resemblance to what I knew in the States.
Looks like there's nothing else for it Daniel, you're gonna have to start curing your own pastrami, and then open a sandwich shop!
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:47 pm

Shel, Hi.....


Borrowing a few lines from Harry Belafonte:

When I was a lad just three-foot-three
Certain questions occured to me....


My grandfather and father were both in construction, specializing in constlruction for the meat and dairy industires. Among my memories, the huge lines of concrete vats in which were curing corned beef, the smokehouses for the sausages, the production of pastrami. I even remember eating hot dogs as they came straight from the smokehouses. Fine memories but if you think I'm going to go to that kind of effort in order to get a pastrami sandwich, let me tell you that it's a heck of a lot easier and cheaper to fly to New York, from JFK to take a taxi to one of a dozen superb delis and once esconced to eat my belly full.As to opening a sandwich shop or any other food or wine related industry - you and I should both live long enough so say that.


Back to Harry Belafonte:

So I asked me father quite seriously
To tell me the story 'bout the bird and bee.
He stammered and he stuttered pathetically
And this is what he said to me.

He said, "The woman piaba and the man piaba
and the Ton Ton call baka lemon grass,
The lily root, gully root, belly root uhmm,
And the famous grandy scratch scratch.


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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Carl Eppig » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:54 am

When in NYC it's Katz' Pastrami sandwich; when home it's Hebrew National franks.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:18 pm

With re the question of pastrami sandwiches, I just received an email from a very dear friend. He wrote:

"Years ago, I was friendly with a very famous Korean architect. When
we visited he would either cook for us in the building that had his
home and his studio in it or take us to one of his nightclubs where
he would serve us a great dinner and all the hostesses would leave
their clients and flock to keep us company. He was bigger than
life..a grand bon vivant. When he came to Boston I offered to take
him to the best restaurant in the city ---no, all he wanted was a
kosher corned beef sandwich from New York. I had one flown up."

The fame of Jewish hot pastrami is renowned world over!!!!!

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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Michelle Nordell » Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:48 pm

It is probably not there anymore, but I would love to have a towering rare roastbeef sandwich from the New Wave Deli in New York City. I think it was on Lexington Avenue. I haven't had one in years.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Trevor F » Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:35 pm

Easy

Adafina or Moroccan meat stew usually eaten on the Sabbath, with trigo de maiz, with or without couscous, accompanied by a decent English bitter, like Spitfire bitter brewed by Shepherd Neame or a Belgian abbey beer like Duvel or Leffe.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shlomo R » Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:29 am

My, my. What an interesting concept - the best Jewish meal I can think of. Here goes:

Matjes herring and onions on Tam Tam crackers.
perhaps some Chicken soup with matza balls and loads of veggies.
P'tcha (calf's foot jelly) on tam tams.
Cholent, kishke, potato kugel, yerushalmi kugel, kibbe, lahmajeen
Hot chunk pastrami.

The beverages that would accompany this are really not jewish, but have become mainstays in the past few decades. The herring needs either a good whiskey or ice cold vodka. The soup doesn't really need a beverage, but a good Cabernet Sauvignon would work well. The p'tcha goes back to good whiskey, and I would probably switch to strong beers for the last two, although whiskey works excellently as well.

I would tend to overeat (and drink) during such a meal, so the ideal completion would be a four hour nap with intravenous fluids (note that quite a bit of the food is heavily salted, and I suggested drinking only alcoholic beverages - the fluids would be to prevent horrible dehydration and possibly hangover).
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Doug Z » Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:12 am

Shlomo R wrote:
Matjes herring and onions on Tam Tam crackers.
perhaps some Chicken soup with matza balls and loads of veggies.
P'tcha (calf's foot jelly) on tam tams.
Cholent, kishke, potato kugel, yerushalmi kugel, kibbe, lahmajeen
Hot chunk pastrami.



not sure what has killed more jews....generations of anti semites or that meal.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Jenise » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:30 pm

Shel T wrote:For the last umpteen years my Jewish food "fix" has been satisfied in various delis, mainly here in L.A., for those who may know the area, historic "Canter's", almost as well-known "Art's" and our local "Marv's" for takeout.
And admit I'm pretty conventional in what I order, bagel, lox and cream cheese, lox, eggs and onions, meat knish, derma (kishke), chopped liver and of course the various sandwiches, pastrami, corned beef and Reuben.
Getting hungry writing about it!


Canter's! Read about it in the L.A. Times long ago and it fueled my 16 year old imagination and sense of wanderlust, being a new driver, to the point one sleepless night of pushing my little Fiat out of the driveway of the family home in Whittier about 2 a.m. (we lived on a hill, so I could jumpstart it at the bottom well away from the ears of disapproving parents). Picked up a gal pal on the way and arrived at Canter's around 3. It was my first Jewish deli experience and my first ever restaurant meal at 3 in the morning, and for that I shall always love it.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shlomo R » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:22 am

Doug Z wrote:
not sure what has killed more jews....generations of anti semites or that meal.


:lol: He didn't ask for a healthy meal... I very rarely eat all of that on the same day, let alone at a single meal.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Shel T » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:46 pm

Jenise, re Canter's, yes forgot to mention that one of the great things about Canter's is that it's open 24/7 and that they make a point of saying they don't even have a lock on the front door!
And another feature not usually associated with Jewish delis is the adjoining 'Kibitz' room that has rock and blues bands on 7 nights a week.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Margalit N » Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:12 am

the best eastern european jewish meals i had were ofcourse made by my grandmother. they included
chopped liver,
pickled cabbage,
sour soup with shpetzalle,
eggplant salad,
white bean paste with garlic and fried onion and paprica,
knishes - my grandmother knishes were actually mashed potatoes shaped into a flat croquette and filled with chopped onion and mushrooms, and than fried.
steamed sour sweet red cabbage,
salty gefilte fish,
for desert i would get a cold fruit compot (fruit soup) or a dry lekech (cake) or a rich kigel.
i cant believe i was so luckey to have this food made for me. i miss her so much.
i keep looking for these tastes and qualities, and sometimes find some of it - never all in the same place.

but i also had very good turkish jewish meals, and i miss them a little less - cause i still get to have them :)
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Stuart Yaniger » Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:11 am

MMmmmmm, knishes. It's been years since I've had a decent one. They tend to be made much too heavy, gooey, and bland. My last encounter was a kasha knish in Florida (the Seminole word for "where Jews go to die") which had no texture or flavor whatever and still managed to give me heartburn.
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:17 am

Men tend to repeat jokes. Critics tend to repeat stories. Your post above reminds me of many years ago when Paul Bocuse was visiting New York and I took him to a well-known knish joint on the Lower East side. I ordered two potato knishes, one spread generously with deli mustard, the other with nothing more than an additional bit of salt. Bocuse took a big bite of one of those, held it at arms length, studied it for a moment and said "It's marvelous. But tell me, is it to eat or to throw at an enemy?"

The knish (aka the Jewish atom bomb) that does not give you heartburn is a poor knish indeed.

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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Margalit N » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:19 am

my memory of my grandmother's knishes is of soft clouds of good things.
these days everything gives my heartburn...
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Re: The Best Jewish Meal (You Don't Have to Be Jewish)

by Charlie Dawg » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:35 pm

If we are talking The Best, I have talk about my grandma's foods. Everything she cooked was amazing. But there is one thing that deserves special recognition.
My mom is a pretty decent cook, especially she is really good when it comes for Jewish foods.
I am not so bad my self, do not want to brag here, but I really am pretty good, especially when it comes to family specialties, especially Jewish specialties.
Well neither my mom nor I, are able to make blintzes the way my grandma made. Especially the meat kind, not the cheese that you see in NY eateries. The real meat one are the best ones. My grandma, of blessed memory, she's been gone for almost 25 years, in 3 weeks it will be 25 years, but I can still taste her blintzes, I still remember the taste as if I just had one a minute ago. Ah, those were the BLINTZES. Both my mother and I have made numerous atempts to recreate them, but to no avail. I can make blintzes, but nothing like what she could make. May her neshama have an aliah. I love you grandma, and I love your blintzes.
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