On the way home from work today, I stopped at the ONLY Jewish deli in the city, to pick-up an order I had called in – pastrami on rye and a knish.
While waiting in the pick-up line, the clerk and I started talking, with the clerk finally asking, “You’re not from around here, are you?” “No – I’m originally from NY.” “Then you know Jewish food – right? She continued, “Well, I just started working here and embarrassed to ask anyone, but what’s a knish?”
I choked back a giggle – she’d been serving them and packing them, but hadn’t had one, hadn’t even broken one apart – god forbid.
A typical knish (ka-nish) in NYC, looks like a fried, pastry rectangle about an inch or so thick, 3 to 5 inches long, and inside is mashed/chunky potatoes.
It’s served hot, you can eat it wrapped in a paper napkin in your hand, or on plate to cut and use a fork. You drizzle mustard on it – spicy brown is the usual – and then dig in.
That’s the usual but they can be square, baked, or round and not closed, filled with potatoes and – spinach, mushroom, pastrami, etc.
Of my years in the Bronx, I remember the food – the ethnic / cultural / racial diversity of food. Jewish Challah bread and Irish soda bread; Irish Corn Beef and Cabbage and Hungarian Goulash; Puerto Rican pigeon peas and rice; African-American red beans and rice and barbecued pigs feet; German hot potato salad and cold pickled pigs feet; Italian spaghetti w/sausage and meatballs in the gravy – tomato sauce in the Bronx is GRAVY!
About knishes – it always amazes me that different cultures/ethnicites individualize each others foods – a knish by any other name could be a pierogi, an empanada, a calzone, or almost any other stuffed dough “pocket”. Even a Chinese fried/steamed dumpling. Enjoy!
What’s your cross-cultural, or unique, favorite food ?