January 3, 2012

Dont' Throw out the Old

It seems that every article on kosher of late cites the large number of exotic products that are kosher. This is the definitive proof that kosher has made it. The coverage on Kosherfest was no exception as most stories focused on the new products and the items “you’d never believe are now kosher.” But as any self-proclaimed expert on kosher will tell you, the traditional kosher foods are doing extremely well, the stories of their demise largely exaggerated. Take cholent and herring, for example. They have never been more popular and not just on the Shabbat table or at the Kiddush, but even as the Thursday night out with the boys in restaurants and other stores all over the country. If you should luck out to be invited to a wedding on a Wednesday or Thursday, you may very well be the beneficiary of some “overnight potato kugel,” “gourmet cholent with kishke” and a matjes herring in wine sauce with just the right texture of onions that goes so well with the popular kichel.


Gefilte fish is by far not extinct, as there are now more frozen varieties than your grandmother could dream of. In one store, I saw regular, semi-sweetened, unsweetened, multi-color, salmon, and even the family-pack. Nor has stuffed cabbage, ptcha and chopped liver passed into oblivion. They are by no means relics from another age. They are very much alive and part of a profit center that only keeps growing, despite being occasionally passed over for sushi, exotic sauces, and gluten-free this and that. Whenever I forget just how much a part of Jewish history these foods are I consult some of Joan Nathan’s excellent books or the most recent Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods by Gil Marks. And I do want to take this occasion to dedicate this column to a complete recovery for Gil, a master of the kosher culinary arts whose contributions to Jewish and kosher foods are so appreciated by so many.