‘Jews have always been foodies’

‘Jews have always been foodies’

Re your Nov. 21 cover story about Jewish “foodies”: Apparently, most Jewish food “trends” are based on the hope that they are or will be made kosher.

At one time, very few international foods were considered kosher and Jewish families substituted what they thought were the right ingredients. At home, we ate “pizza pie” that consisted of an English muffin spread with Heinz ketchup and a slice of kosher American cheese. We dared to create “Chinese food” of chopped-up leftover chicken buried in cream of mushroom soup with some Tam Tam crackers crumbled on top. Ice cream sundaes (because of the marshmallow) were not edible, so at home we had a scoop of plain vanilla with Hershey’s syrup globbed over it and M&Ms strewn on top. Italian food? Oh yes, there were meatballs and spaghetti, but it was plain pasta with huge fat meatballs plopped on top and (again) covered with Heinz. So few foods were available with a kosher label, and fewer still with an international flavor. Sushi did not exist in the American mainstream, but we did have our cold gefilte fish – as we said, “straight from the Hudson River,” where the gefiltes swam.

Life wasn’t so bad with ginger ale and one or two brands of cereal and cookies. As for international foods, we had cheese blintzes and strudel, we had plain bagels, stuffed cabbage for the fancier meals, and sweet and sour tongue if you liked that kind of delicacy more than stuffed derma or kishka.

Jews have always been “foodies.” We ate as much and as often as we could, and tried each item as it came on the kosher market, and while a lot of items didn’t for a long time, we certainly ate well.