Fun with schmaltz
For this one you'll want to press your nose against the monitor to see if you catch a whiff of chicken fat.
These are mashed Russet potatoes made with salt, schmaltz, and grebenes. Served with extra schmaltz and grebenes at the table. Butter and cream are nice, but schmaltz makes these into a whole different dish. And if you must keep kosher and you're going to eat meat, schmaltz is really your only option. (In case you have forgotten, grebenes are the crisp bits of skin left over after rendering schmaltz, in addition to onions added to flavor the fat.)
It would be customary in the tradition of my people to make a joke here about how eating this kind of food will hasten your death. But that stuff isn't funny and anyway, we know now that the margarine we used to eat by the big plastic tubful was only slightly more nutritious than anthrax. I grew up eating hideous quantities of margarine, the horror. It's salty, spreads easily right out of the fridge, and can be eaten with milk or meat. And to think, all that time it could have been schmaltz I was devouring.
The only problem with schmaltz is that you have to render it yourself--at least around here you do--and I can't quite keep up the supply I would like. So we keep butter out on the countertop, which according to some amateur sociologists is like a big sign reading "GENTILES WERE HERE."
Every time I cook with schmaltz lately I hear in my head the sing-songy verses of Amy Wilson Sanger's Let's Nosh, which my parents insist they bought for the little man at the MoMA giftshop. While not quite a chestnut on the order of the Goodnights Gorilla or Moon, Let's Nosh does have its charms. It helps to try to imagine the voice of Zero Mostel (a world-class nosher in his day) reading the words and to begin every other line "Oy..."
"Carrot tsimmes," calls my tummy, "Let's nosh on kasha knish."You might know Amy Wilson Sanger as the author of several other multiculti food books for kids: First Book of Sushi, Hola Jalapeno, Yum Yum Dim Sum, Mangia! Mangia!, and A Little Bit of Soul Food. I can only imagine that Japanese, Latino, Chinese, Italian, and African-American parents are no less embarrassed by caricatures of their ethnic identity than we are by Let's Nosh. That said, chopped liver spread on dark rye bread, like many other things, does taste best with extra schmaltz.
Look how I made mish-mosh of my gefilte fish!
I smell fresh-baked challah--it must be Friday night!
I dip my pinky in the wine. We eat by candlelight.
Slurp a sip of chicken soup with floating matzoh balls.
Chopped liver spread on dark rye bread tastes best with extra schmaltz.
Here's a scoop of noodle kugel in my fancy-schmancy bowl...
Next to fruit-filled hamentaschen and some nutty rugelach rolls.
"This bubelah loves bagles!" my grandma likes to say.
They're great with lox and cream cheese or most any other way!
I like applesauce and sour cream on my hot potato latkes.
But today my tummy says, "Let's nosh on lots and lots of matzoh!"