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Archive for the ‘Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food’ Category

KnishYesterday, I was flipping through a book I was cataloging called KnishBookKnish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver. As I was looking for familiar names I began to realize that the simple knish had come to signify distinct parts of my life.

As I read about Mrs. Stahl’s Knish store having closed almost a decade ago, I remembered visits to my grandparents in Brighton Beach and the quick stop on the way home to Long Island at Mrs. Stahl’s. My dad would run out leaving me and my mother in the car (because parking under the El was impossible) while he bought knishes (typically round potato or kasha). Mrs. Stahl’s signifies my childhood until my early or mid-teens when we moved grandma to Bayside to be closer to us. MrsStahlsAnd while I hadn’t been back to Mrs. Stahl’s since the move, I will always remember it, the screeching of the wheels of the elevated line, walking down the gritty, crowded Brighton Beach Avenue and the good times had in Brighton Beach. It also brought back the sad memory that I never went to shul with my grandfather, something he always wanted me to do…to show off his grandson.
KnishNosh

Then came Knish Nosh on Queens Blvd in Rego Park (excuse me…Forest Hills). Knish Nosh signifies freedom, independence, a new life because I got married and my first apartment was in Rego Park. A one bedroom with a raised dining area for a whopping $260 a month, it was just a short walk to Knish Nosh. We weren’t frequent visitors but every now and then the urge struck. Whenever I pass it on Queens Blvd, I do think back to those days…my house and car being vandalized, fun walks along Austin Street, a quick subway ride into work, eating pizza on the floor the first day we moved in.

And now, in the later years, there’s Ben’s Deli in the Wheatley Plaza Shopping Center.Bens Susan and I are reasonably frequent take out customers, splitting a pastrami on rye (mustard on the side), a round potato knish (never square), pickles and, a recent addition, a hot dog. It’s way too much for one person, although I’ll admit the sandwiches are getting a little skimpier. Sitting in my kitchen, talking and laughing and scarfing down (me), eating slower (Susan), it is a reminder of the good things that aging still has to offer…love and romance, friendship, comfort and contentment.

KatzBy the way, the restaurants seem to have become more modern. Mrs. Stahl’s and Knish Nosh remind me more of Katz’ Deli on the Lower East Side (which you must try…Susan and I were there about 2 years ago and it hasn’t changed since I was there as a kid). Ben’s is definitely more upscale.

While other comfort foods bring back memories, none of them conjure up distinct segments of my life. I’ll bet there are different foods that do the same thing for you. Let me know.

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