June 3, 2013

Is the Knaidel Headed for a Comeback Thanks to a Spelling Bee?

New York…While the media searched for the exact spelling and definition of knaidel, some were wondering if the coveted round ball of dough would actually make a comeback in the wake of the word being the crowning word for  Arvind V. Mahankali, who won the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee last Thursday.  It isn’t as if the knaidel is not popular, but one old-timer said that he remembered the days when not a week would go by without the knaidelech and brisket in his diet.  Acclaimed kosher cook author Gil Marks in his definitive Encyclopedia of Kosher Food (Wiley, 2010) agrees with the spelling and defines knaidel as a “dumpling.” The most common type, he says, “is made with matzo meal and is commonly known as a matzo ball.” Marks says that the first recorded recipe for ground matzo dumplings was in the first Jewish cookbook in English (The Jewish Manual, London, 1846). He credits Manischewitz for achieving mass usage when it introduced packaged matzo meal. Some kosher restaurants say that they intend to offer more knaidelech on their menus as a result of all the publicity.

Master Chef Fritz Sonnenschmidt, a former culinary dean at the Culinary Institute of America has long prepared knaidlech in many different flavors. He says that the knaidel is “one of the most amazing and versatile foods.” His lectures and cooking demonstrations are immensely popular, especially on kosher food, garde manger and charcuterie. Fritz began his culinary career with an apprenticeship in Munich, Germany, which led to extensive international work experiences in hotel and club kitchens, including that of Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City. He received the Jerusalem Gold Medal for Culinary Excellence for kosher food and was a frequent visitor to Kosherfest in the ‘90’s.