Local ubermarket caves to International Jewish Conspiracy
The bitch, the absolute, incontrovertible, undeniably heinous bitch of the Atkins Diet is that I can't eat any of my Yid comfort food. Although Atkins is dead and his company has filed for bankruptcy, I continue to follow a low carb diet because that (and exercise) is the only thing preventing my jelly roll from ruling the world or, barring that, forcing me back into my fat clothes. Make no mistake about it: Jewish comfort food is not low carb. Here's a short list of all the things I dearly miss. Matzo brei Latkes Noodle kugel Rice pudding Kishke Rye bread toast and butter Matzo with beet horseradish Matzo ball soup I can eat gefilte fish. That's about it. I could make cholent (sort of a crock pot stew), but I never had that as a kid, so it doesn't qualify as comfort food. This afternoon, I went shopping at our local ubermarket, a place which never used to carry Jewish products. "There's no demand for it," the manager said when I asked him about it five years ago. Like hell there's no demand for it. I wanted it. Today, as I guided my cart amongst the clueless and the damned, those folks too gomertose to realize wide aisles aren't that wide if you orient your cart crosswise (and then zone out for five minutes, staring blankly at your list, ignoring the little hairy dude who keeps saying -- what is he saying? Oh! Excuse me. Well, young man, why should I excuse you? You're not bothering me one bit, no sir. Excuse you. Isn't that funny? Oh, he said it again! Um . . . maybe he wants me to move aside?), I found a whole section dedicated to matzo, borscht, gefilte fish, Shabbat candles, just about anything with -itz or -stein at the end of a trade name. And I thought, Go International Jewish Conspiracy! Finally doing something for us loyal dues-payers. Not that I bought anything. I can't eat this stuff. Karen's idea of comfort food is mochi, and Jake could live on Pepperoni Pizza Bagel Bites and Whole Fruit strawberry popsicles. They both like my latkes and they tolerate my matzo ball chicken soup. But do they crave this stuff like I do? Naah. I'll leave you with two recipes.
Matzo breiUse one matzo square per serving. Break up the cracker into lots of little pieces. Microwave one-quarter cup of milk until it is almost boiling, then season with salt and pepper. Soak the matzo in the milk until the pieces are limp. Drain off any excess milk. Scramble two eggs and mix well with the moistened matzo fragments. Fry in butter, and blow a raspberry at anyone who tells you you're clogging your arteries. When it comes to Jewish comfort food, coronary arteries are so not the point.
Latkes (potato pancakes)For my wife and son, both small eaters, I use one good-sized russet potato, one small onion, and two eggs. Peel and coarsely grate the potato. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and toss to mix. Over the next few minutes, the potato will give up some of its water. You can poor this off, but in my experience the ultimate pancake is only subtly different. Beat two eggs in with the potatos. Add a heaping tablespoon of matzo meal (NO, flour or bread crumbs will NOT substitute) and mix well. Coarsely grate one small onion and add this to the mix. The onion is optional, but I think it adds considerable character. Freshly ground black pepper is a must. The matzo meal will absorb some of the liquid over the next five minutes. That's about as long as I have patience to wait. In a nonstick pan, heat vegetable oil (a thin layer -- don't skimp, but your pancake shouldn't swim, either) until a bit of potato sizzles. I make my latkes about three inches across. I flatten them slightly with a fork. If your cooktop doesn't heat evenly, turn the pancakes before flipping. Before flipping, you want 'em GBD, as Alton Brown says (golden brown and delicious). The second side will brown more unevenly than the first, but don't worry about that. Drain. Serve with sour cream.
***Okay, your turn: what are your comfort foods? D.