I’ve just listened to the pilot episode of the new podcast by the Association of Jewish Studies. They discuss how the Jewish Appetizing shop came to be – a really interesting story. Who could bother to prepare their own herring and smoked fish in the overcrowded Lower East Side tenements? It made sense to buy it at the pushcart, or the upgraded version, the “Appetizer”, where you got herring (with, presumably, kichel?), sour pickles, smoked lox (salmon) and various candy shop items.
It’s worth a listen!
Also, as with many things Jewish history, the Hasidic part of the story is often neglected and history is told only from the viewpoint of the pre-holocaust Eastern European immigrants. But in Hasidic Williamsburg, a lot of the traditions of the first half of the twentieth century were taken over by the Hasidim, so that Flaum’s Apppetizer on Lee Avenue (where our food tour stops) was established in 1918 and is now, a hundred years later, still run by a fifth generation family member.
Now Flaum’s is not only an Appetizing, they updated their store to include a large salad bar (a twenty first century mishigas in delis everywhere, Hasidic included) and they have an ice cream option. In other words, they are the dairy equivalent of the Fleishig Deli.
They are even better known for their line of containered appetizing foods; pickles, spreads, various delicious dips for the shabbes challah.
I love how much of the nostalgia for “home” in Europe (which is another thread connecting earlier Jewish immigrants to post Holocaust immigrant Hasidim) is captured in the food. You can apparently try different herrings for Breslov (from Ukraine), Volozhin (Russia) and Kotzk (Poland). I wonder how much of the various regional herrings are grounded in history, or are they just assigned names to give a sense of a connection to the past? It’s time to pick up some eyer-kichel from Tiferes Heimishe Bakery and go do some field research…
I’ll be sure to put some notes (with pictures, of course) of that up here.
My, my. All this “field research” is not good for my figah.