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What It Means To Be A "Jewish" Restaurant Now

 
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Amarante




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 1:33 pm
I don't think any of these restaurants are kosher but it is an interesting discussion on how "Jewish" food is being revived and updated by a new generation of "hip" chefs who are inspired by their childhood traditional foods.

From New York Magazine

https://www.grubstreet.com/202.....89877

‘Why Aren’t These Flavors Being Celebrated?’

Rethinking what it means to be a “Jewish” restaurant in New York.

Jason Diamond11:10 A.M.



A sandwich of chickpea schnitzel, green cabbage, Israeli salad and garlic aioli, from Edith’s in
Williamsburg. Photo: Janice Chung

This past March, Elyssa Heller opened Edith’s in Williamsburg. Three weeks ago, while sitting at the sandwich counter, I had an epiphany, one that forced me to reconsider my long-held belief that bagel sandwiches are terrible. Bagels are wonderful, of course, but they are too much — too chewy, too thick — for sandwiches. At Edith’s, the homemade bagels are smaller, lighter. Eating the shop’s smoked amberjack with scallions, radishes, labneh, and trout roe was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had smooshing together two halves of a poppyseed bagel. The revelation was not necessarily that bagels can make good sandwiches; it was more that somebody had taken the time to rethink what a bagel could be, and had, in turn, made me rethink one aspect of my culture’s food.

I’ve come to appreciate my Jewishness through food more than anything else. As a writer, I’m sometimes given the opportunity to explore topics like how bialys help me calm my nerves or the sadness I and every person who ever stepped into Sammy’s Roumanian felt upon hearing the news that the beloved spot would no longer be clogging the arteries of locals and tourists. But I don’t write about “Jewish” food. To say I write about “Jewish food” would put me in a box where I don’t want to be. It would also be at odds with my thinking that Jewish food can be whatever a Jewish person happens to be cooking or eating.

The only thing I know for sure is that “Jewish food” is not one thing — it isn’t just bagels or bialys or pastrami — but, lately, that is too often what I see when a new Jewish restaurant opens. It had started to feel like all you need is an account with Acme Smoked Fish, somebody with a brisket recipe, and a few vintage glass seltzer bottles for decoration and really anybody can open up a “Jewish restaurant.” It’s the goleming of my culture, soullessness dressed up in white subway tile. And it’s a problem that other cultures face as their food makes its way into the American diet. It’s Indian spices co-opted by wellness influencers. It’s “clean” Chinese food and “improved” congee. It’s the frustration that immigrant communities feel when the food of their ancestors gets “discovered” and “updated” for a largely white, American-born audience.

I thought about all of this as I finished that bagel sandwich at Edith’s, and then started on my way home. My wife texted to remind me that we had food delivery on the way. It was Friday, and while we aren’t observant, we like our Friday nights to be full of great food. That week, we had ordered from chef Erez Blanks’s small upstart, Parchment. The menu was challah, a couple of Middle Eastern sides, and a harissa-smoked chicken that we would go on to devour before freezing the leftover bones to make stock.

If there is such a thing as Jewish cuisine, it has to take into account the entire Jewish experience, yet, as a people, we’ve been scattered all over the globe. However, I’ve noticed lately that more people are trying to explore that ancestry in meaningful ways. It’s reading Michael W. Twitty connecting the stories of the Black and Jewish diasporas through food; it’s the folks behind Gefilteria obsessively searching out the lost history of shtetl food; it’s Einat Admony at Balaboosta going back to her family’s Persian and Yemenite backgrounds, or Trina and Jessica Quinn, the married duo behind Dacha 46, paying homage to Jessica’s Russian-Jewish background with pelmeni and new takes on whitefish.

And it’s Heller, at Edith’s, trying to broaden the definition of “Jewish” food beyond what she ate growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, or while living in Montreal and New York. “I know that there are other people that have gone through my experience where they grew up, went to Hebrew school and got a bat mitzvah, but, like, didn’t really know that there was so much more to Jewish history, culture and storytelling,” she says. “All of these colorful things that I think were totally missed.”

The food at Edith’s, admittedly, does start with the sort of cooking that Yiddish-speakers brought over to America around the turn of the 20th century. Bagels are at the heart of the enterprise, but the rings are closed with a twist, how bagels used to be done. That’s shtetl stuff. It’s also a sign that everything at Edith’s has been thought through and considered.

Edith’s got its start right before the pandemic, when, with $10,000 to her name after a tough divorce, Heller decided to bet the house and start her own business. She found chef Christina Jackson, they started messing around, and Heller, who decided to try her idea as a pop-up, started calling pizzerias because she knew one would have the kind of oven she needed, and probably wouldn’t be using it early in the morning when her team would be baking. Nobody returned her calls except Paulie Gee, the slice king of Greenpoint.

Paulie Gee has a great reputation, and the connection to his place, Heller admits, probably helped initially: Word of mouth spread, and Edith’s became one of the few bright spots of a horrible time for a lot of people. In March, they moved to the old Meat Hook space in Williamsburg on Lorimer. From there, Heller and her team started to put together a menu based on a lot of research. Heller mentions books by David Sax and Leah Koenig as inspiration, but also found herself gravitating toward the Persian menu at Sofreh in Prospect Heights. That opened something for her.

Heller admits that growing up in the Midwest didn’t afford much exposure to the Persian Jewish community, but she never had twisted bagels, either. She knew there could be room for all of it on her menu. “I’m like, Why aren’t these flavors being celebrated?” she says.

So, at Edith’s, there’s brisket, but it’s served on a challah kaiser roll with labneh. There’s a Portugese-Alheira sausage that has a connection to Sephardic Jews’ time in Spain before the Spanish Inquisition. There are flavors from different countries and continents that mingle together in a dazzling, comfortable way. Edith’s certainly isn’t kosher — they serve a bacon, egg, and cheese with a latke — and there are purists who would take umbrage with a few of the menu’s choices, but purists are boring.

Edith’s is not from one place, and it’s certainly not a single flavor. Right now, it’s exactly what I want to eat.

If you want to see these photos, follow the link

https://www.grubstreet.com/202.....89877

Smoked amberjack with labneh, radishes, and trout roe.

Edith’s makes its labneh and cream cheese in house.

Edith’s also offers a collection of grocery items.

Tahini blondies.

Making chicken schnitzel.

Apple pie hamantaschen.

Elyssa Heller opened Edith’s in March after first serving as a pop-up at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint.

Photographs Janice Chung
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Raisin




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 1:42 pm
Sorry, I have a real problem with places that call themselves 'jewish' or kosher style serving bacon or meat and milk together. That is cultural appropriation!
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 2:14 pm
Raisin wrote:
Sorry, I have a real problem with places that call themselves 'jewish' or kosher style serving bacon or meat and milk together. That is cultural appropriation!


I think you mean vice versa. When an American place sells Chinese food, that is cultural appropriation if you like, or you could call it culinary fusion. When a Hebrew Israelite wears tzitzit and a kippah or a Greek Orthodox woman wears a magen david, or McDonalds sells lokshen kugel, , that is cultural appropriation. When a place calling itself Jewish serves meat and milk together, that's just plain sacrilege, not cultural appropriation.

BTW what do you call it when kosher food companies make "fake tref" like fake shrimp made from ground whitefish or "cheeseburgers" made from soy meat, soy cheese, or both?
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imorethanamother




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 2:18 pm
Quote:
She knew there could be room for all of it on her menu. “I’m like, Why aren’t these flavors being celebrated?” she says.

So, at Edith’s, there’s brisket, but it’s served on a challah kaiser roll with labneh. There’s a Portugese-Alheira sausage that has a connection to Sephardic Jews’ time in Spain before the Spanish Inquisition. There are flavors from different countries and continents that mingle together in a dazzling, comfortable way. Edith’s certainly isn’t kosher — they serve a bacon, egg, and cheese with a latke — and there are purists who would take umbrage with a few of the menu’s choices, but purists are boring.


There's always these types of articles. Kosher is boring! Spice it up! Brisket and labneh! Different flavors!

It's all anti-religious sentiment wrapped up in a restaurant review. New takes on Jewish food to make them non-kosher in the name of getting with the times has been all the rage for about twenty years now, but maybe I'm older than you, Amarante.
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chanatron1000




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 2:22 pm
I think I'll open an Italian restaurant that is all about rebellion. It should give you the feel of being a sociopathic Italian teen who wants to make his family sad. The menu will include deep dish pizza topped with a can of pineapple and short spaghetti with ketchup.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 2:46 pm
chanatron1000 wrote:
I think I'll open an Italian restaurant that is all about rebellion. It should give you the feel of being a sociopathic Italian teen who wants to make his family sad. The menu will include deep dish pizza topped with a can of pineapple and short spaghetti with ketchup.


Which is precisely how I feel about so-called lokshen kugel with cottage cheese and pineapple or fruit cocktail.
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Raisin




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 3:22 pm
zaq wrote:
I think you mean vice versa. When an American place sells Chinese food, that is cultural appropriation if you like, or you could call it culinary fusion. When a Hebrew Israelite wears tzitzit and a kippah or a Greek Orthodox woman wears a magen david, or McDonalds sells lokshen kugel, , that is cultural appropriation. When a place calling itself Jewish serves meat and milk together, that's just plain sacrilege, not cultural appropriation.

BTW what do you call it when kosher food companies make "fake tref" like fake shrimp made from ground whitefish or "cheeseburgers" made from soy meat, soy cheese, or both?


Well, the idea of pasta was bought back from China to Italy. This sort of cultural appropriation is normal and fine, imo. Fish and chips (what could be more british than that????) was copied from sefardic Jewish immigrants to the UK. Then, ashkenazic Jews came along and created the original sefardic ashkenazi fusion cuisine - chopped and fried gefilta fish. That is just how food works.

I really don't have a problem if ashkenazi Jews make a sefardic restaurant or whatever. Or non Jews want to serve brisket on challah. But if I open an Indian restaurant and serve things that Indians would never eat, thats just wrong.

I wouldn't eat a kosher cheeseburger, sound revolting either way round, but I once had facon on a burger. Was not impressed with taste but I don't think there is anything wrong with that.
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sequoia




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 3:42 pm
chanatron1000 wrote:
I think I'll open an Italian restaurant that is all about rebellion. It should give you the feel of being a sociopathic Italian teen who wants to make his family sad. The menu will include deep dish pizza topped with a can of pineapple and short spaghetti with ketchup.


I mean.

Yes.

Genius.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 3:59 pm
You see, we have no problem with adapting our food. Look at every weekly magazine - Relish, Whisk, Family Table, et al. We start with kosher and then the sky's the limit. But when you start with "Jewish" and start tinkering, without the parameters of kashrus, it's going to get pretty amorphous.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:03 pm
Ethnic is in. Even if it's bogus.
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Amarante




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:09 pm
chanatron1000 wrote:
I think I'll open an Italian restaurant that is all about rebellion. It should give you the feel of being a sociopathic Italian teen who wants to make his family sad. The menu will include deep dish pizza topped with a can of pineapple and short spaghetti with ketchup.


I realize that you are being sarcastic but ham and pineapple on pizza is a fairly popular choice (it's generally called Hawaiian pizza but has nothing to do with Hawaiian cuisine except for the pineapple. The Japanese have wildly popular "curry" restaurants which are their version of curry over rice and a spaghetti sauce which is ketchup based.

One of the first super popular food trucks in Los Angeles served Korean tacos which fused Korean and Mexican flavors.

And the Chinese food that is served in most Chinese American style restaurants which is what kosher Chinese restaurants serve has almost nothing in common with authentic Chinese food. It is the equivalent of spaghetti with ketchup.

Here is a wiki explanation of "Japanese curry" and how it was adapted to Japanese tastes

Curry originates in Indian cuisine and was brought to Japan from India by the British. The Imperial Japanese Navy adopted curry to prevent beriberi, and now the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Friday menu is curry.[3] The dish became popular and available for purchase at supermarkets and restaurants in the late 1960s. Since the introduction of curry, it was reinvented to suit Japanese tastes and ingredients.[4] Japanese curry has little resemblance to curried dishes from other regions.[1] It was changed and adapted so much that it stands on its own as uniquely Japanese.[4] It is so widely consumed that it can be called a national dish.[1]

And here is an article on Japanese spaghetti sauce which is ketchup based

The name of the dish sounds like the Italian pasta dish, Spaghetti Napolitana but the sauce is quite different. While the sauce of the Italian pasta is made with crushed/pureed tomato and herbs, the Japanese Napolitan sauce uses ketchup/tomato sauce.

Apparently, the chef at Hotel New Grand in Yokohama invented the dish soon after WWII. Hotel New Grand was used as accommodation by American troops during the Occupation of Japan, for 7 years from 1945.

The chef watched how the American soldiers were eating pasta by simply adding ketchup to it and nothing else. He thought it was too plain as a dish so he added all the ingredients to the pasta that resembles today’s Spaghetti Napolitan. The name of the dish came from the Italian dish, Spaghetti Napolitana due to its similarity.

Spaghetti Napolitan is widespread among young and old, so much so that if people hear the word ‘Napolitan’ (ナポリタン), everyone knows that it is a Japanese Ketchup Pasta.


Last edited by Amarante on Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:12 pm
Here's a fascinating book - Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef's Journey to Discover American's New Melting-Pot Cuisine.
https://www.amazon.com/Butterm.....57389
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:16 pm
Are you aware that there are more people who consider being Jewish to be a cultural/ethnic thing than a religious thing? Only a very small fraction of the Jews in the world observe the laws of kashrut. And while some cardiac Jews ("I'm not religious but I have a Jewish heart") may shy away from pork or mixing meat and dairy if they had an observant or traditional grandparent, many more not only have no compunction about eating such things but aren't even aware that they are forbidden.
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Raisin




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:25 pm
zaq wrote:
Are you aware that there are more people who consider being Jewish to be a cultural/ethnic thing than a religious thing? Only a very small fraction of the Jews in the world observe the laws of kashrut. And while some cardiac Jews ("I'm not religious but I have a Jewish heart") may shy away from pork or mixing meat and dairy if they had an observant or traditional grandparent, many more not only have no compunction about eating such things but aren't even aware that they are forbidden.


of course! And I am sure the brisket they are being served at bubby's house is more often than not, treif. But I am sure even cultural Jews would be unlikely to serve to pork at the pesach seder or a friday night dinner. (even if they eat pork on other occasions) Its like Irish americans eating chinese food at a Paddy's day meal.

Anyway, a similar restaurant opened up near where I live and the Jews on my local Jewish fb group (most of whom don't keep kosher) were pretty horrified at a jewish style restaurant serving pork.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:34 pm
Raisin wrote:
of course! And I am sure the brisket they are being served at bubby's house is more often than not, treif. But I am sure even cultural Jews would be unlikely to serve to pork at the pesach seder or a friday night dinner. (even if they eat pork on other occasions) Its like Irish americans eating chinese food at a Paddy's day meal.

Anyway, a similar restaurant opened up near where I live and the Jews on my local Jewish fb group (most of whom don't keep kosher) were pretty horrified at a jewish style restaurant serving pork.


That's pretty much the definition of chutzpah.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:43 pm
zaq wrote:
Are you aware that there are more people who consider being Jewish to be a cultural/ethnic thing than a religious thing? Only a very small fraction of the Jews in the world observe the laws of kashrut. And while some cardiac Jews ("I'm not religious but I have a Jewish heart") may shy away from pork or mixing meat and dairy if they had an observant or traditional grandparent, many more not only have no compunction about eating such things but aren't even aware that they are forbidden.


I think we all know this. It's still painful, and it still feels that the culinary options are...maybe counterfeit or bogus are too strong, but it feels wrong. Sad.
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amother




Strawberry
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:44 pm
Raisin wrote:
of course! And I am sure the brisket they are being served at bubby's house is more often than not, treif. But I am sure even cultural Jews would be unlikely to serve to pork at the pesach seder or a friday night dinner. (even if they eat pork on other occasions) Its like Irish americans eating chinese food at a Paddy's day meal.

Anyway, a similar restaurant opened up near where I live and the Jews on my local Jewish fb group (most of whom don't keep kosher) were pretty horrified at a jewish style restaurant serving pork.

I personally know someone who serves her mom's dairy noodle kugel with brisket...on Pesach. But for her, this is the epitome of Jewishness.
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icebreaker




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 4:46 pm
Harissa smoked chicken sounds so good right now!!
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amother




PlumPink
 

Post Wed, Jul 28 2021, 6:13 pm
One of the people who caused me the most pain--and to this day I don't know if it was deliberate or not--was a relative, nonobservant, who would always invite us to go out to eat (to a nonkosher place; there were no kosher places where they lived) and make remarks like "They have the best bacon-fried potatoes ever. I guess you won't eat that but you could have the salads and everything else." Uh, no, actually, I couldn't.

In contrast, this person's son was fantastically accommodating when we visited him. he bought disposable dishes and flatware, whole fresh fruit and veggies, kosher buns, hot dogs, and condiments and so on in sealed packages, soda in sealed cans, a new hibachi grill and tongs, new cutting board and knives, and showed us everything new and sealed and let us open everything ourselves. He served this to everyone who was there and served nothing that wasn't with a hechsher and sealed. I was so touched!
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cbsp




 
 
 
 

Post Tue, Aug 03 2021, 10:07 pm
Just read this :

"Bacon & Eggs" Noodle Kugel
By Anthony LeDonne
https://anthonyledonne.com/rec.....t=amp


Note: this recipe was part of a book I wrote called Eat Like A Maisel.

https://anthonyledonne.com/eat-like-a-maisel

What’s more marvelous than watching Miriam Maisel take the New York comedy scene by storm? Eating just like her while doing it!

Oy.
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