July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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What’s Old Is New Again, Except for Ptcha

Foods that are known to be traditionally “Jewish” have changed throughout the years. We know that we will probably get ourselves into trouble by remembering some of the dishes on which the Jewish world has thrived.

Today we are learning from our grandchildren that what we once thought was inedible is now “the” delicacy at Kiddush tables. How many remember having chicken feet served in their chicken soup? Nina had never even seen such a thing until one was floating in her soup the first time she visited the Glick household in Malden: a special treat for a new guest. She was too embarrassed to ask, but did wonder if the chicken had walked directly into the pot. There were also little eggs floating around in the soup. Suffice it to say that they were the unborn eggs left in the chicken when it was killed. Need we go on? It is a good thing that PETA was not around at that time or every Jewish household would have been turning to the American Civil Liberties Union to protect them from discriminatory action.

For some reason kishka seems to have stuck around. One does not see it served as frequently as in the past, but who can forego the pleasure of having a shtick of kishka in their cholent? We remember the days when kishka was on restaurant menus as a side dish right beside coleslaw and fries. We can order it today doused with gravy; one of us is salivating at the very thought. Ah, if only on the menu alongside the Impossible Burger at Lazy Bean one could find some sort of kishka smothered in sauce to go with a latte.

We know that herring has become more fashionable. Matjes, pickled, herring in wine sauce and in cream sauce are still around. Today a real herring aficionado will treat his taste buds to Swedish herring, hot saucy matjes herring, Danish shtiglitz, lox and matjes, wasabi herring and tons of others. If someone could only explain to us why the cost of herring is so high when in reality in most little containers there are maybe three pieces of herring, an entire onion cut up and marinated and a pint of water. Our son has the right idea. He goes to the Acme Smoked Fish Factory Outlet in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn (near Williamsburg), where every “Fish Friday” morning they open their doors to the public and sell fish at a far lesser cost than if one were to buy these products in major stores. We have gone with him early on a Friday morning and it is a fun experience with everything available to be sampled.

Another food, or in this case a drink, which comes to mind as being the new rage, which for years was not considered fine enough to be seen on Shabbat tables, is seltzer. We can remember the days when drinking “seltzer” was very Jewish and decidedly uncouth. Today, flavored seltzers are everywhere; the more exotic the flavor the more popular it becomes. La Croix, which for some is the “in” drink these days, sort of makes us laugh when we hear its name, as in Montreal La Croix is a well-known street. Even more humorous to us is that the words mean “the cross.” Shabbat tables are filled with different flavors of “sparkling water,” and we never knew before that you could combine watermelon with pomegranate and get a drink that primarily still tastes like the unflavored seltzer of years ago.

There are many foods that seem to be returning to the kosher food market that were suppressed for many years. Who would have dreamed that ptcha would make a comeback? It is our grandchildren, the mavens of the yeshiva Kiddush experiences, who have shared with us this great news. It seems that yeshiva bochurim are now filling their plates with that squiggly jelly-like concoction. They say that the guys love to “shmeer it on challah.” It is actually called calf’s foot jelly. Yum! More unbelievable to us is that in Israel, as reported by our grandson who has recently returned from learning in Brisk, yeshiva bochurim are going to the butcher stores themselves to buy bones and cooking the concoction in their apartments. The price of bones has risen to an all-time high in butcher stores in communities where the owners are on to the new craze.

In conclusion, we are fans of sushi, especially if it is made with brown rice. We still do not love raw fish. We love charcuterie boards. Pulled brisket and ends of brisket sit well with us. Forgive us, though, as it will be in another world that we would ever consider ptcha as a delicacy for our palettes.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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