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 ?
I’m eating a knish right now! Holla back at your boy. NY shout out to you Kate! You should open up your own shop. Bring some Bronx action to that heartland.
Kate Rawlins said:
YES! There are still some things I miss about the Bronx – an egg cream is one; but they finally have Yoo-Hoo in bottles out here.