Sunday, November 06, 2005

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 brei
Use 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.


Blogger Kate R said...

mine are all sugar, all the time. fruit pie of some sort, chocolate or flan. ever see the Roz Chast comic "the Flan Man"?

My Jewish granny made chopped chicken liver to die for.

11/06/2005 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bare Rump said...

I mentioned before, loooong time ago, that I use the Commander's Palace Cookbook recipe for my chopped chicken liver -- with modifications. The most important mod: Commander's Palace uses way too much butter. Too much butter even for me. Instead, I cook a duck a few days in advance (I'm not kidding -- if I have a yen for chicken liver, I'll make a duck first) and I save the duck schmaltz. Duck schmaltz makes KILLER chopped chicken liver. You can't even imagine.

Hey, with a name like Rothwell, hubs has to be tribe, no? Or did you hang on to the maiden name? Or is this none of my damned business anyway?

11/06/2005 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Oops. Guess who's writing her first blog entry in months tonight.

Although, I dunno -- it does kinda add something, having Bare Rump ask you those things, eh?

11/06/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger mm said...

I'm back to raw foods and vegetable juices tomorrow. I heard the rumour of a high-school reunion last nigh. Ugh!

Dougie - may I just call you "Little Hairy Dude" from now on? :-)

11/06/2005 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

I never met a bread I didn't like. I can still have bread on Dr. Phil's diet as long as I harvest the wheat myself and leave all the grain hulls in it. But my ultimate comfort food is any kind of fried potato. Thanks so much for the recipe!

11/06/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

fried potatoes
mashed potatoes
potato soup
baked pasta
not-baked pasta
hot homemade bread slathered with butter
about anything slathered with butter
beans and cornbread
pasta soup with egg
biscuits and honey
fried rice
tomato soup with grilled chese sammich
pot pie

Okay, I'll stop.

11/06/2005 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

chocolate cake with fudge frosting, served with red wine
blackeyed peas with dumplings
fried apple pies
egg salad on toast


11/06/2005 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

(also, cream cheese on/in about anything. And tea.)

11/06/2005 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

Here's a comfort food you're going to cringe to hear about: steamed white rice with American sliced cheese melted in with a dollop of margarine and a sprinkling of pepper. I limit myself to this once or twice a year, tops, because there's no part of this which can be construed as health-inducing. But yum, do I love it.

I also have a few other baaaad habits involving potatoes, pasta, peanut butter, bread, and diet Coke that are better left unmentioned.

11/06/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

Oh Beth, you and me would be a baaaad influence on one another with the potato addiction - I'm totally with you on never meeting a potato I didn't like. (Well, except for sweet potatoes, that is.)

11/06/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Maureen: Little Hairy Dude it is. I've been called much worse.

Robyn: nothing beats homemade whole grain bread with butter. I could live on bread, at least until I died from it ;o)

Beth: chicken pies from the store. Mmmm. Love those crusts.

fiveandfour: reminds me of another food I loved as a kid. Brown rice, melted margarine, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mmmmmm.

11/06/2005 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jona said...

Rasberries (And bloody hell do they cost a lot at this time of year!!)

11/07/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Calvin for dieters

11/07/2005 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

Homemade soup (pureed &creamed most bestest). Stew. Fried egg sandwich /c cheese and miracle whip (not mayonaise).
Not terribly exciting comfort foods there, but each one contents me.


11/07/2005 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Comfort food. I loved smoked oysters on crackers with cream cheese. And I love a baked brie with crackers and hot mango chutney and a nice glass of red wine. mmmmm.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with this post, but I'll pass the information along anyway, before I forget. I have 2 finches, Elvis and Feather. I learned while I was home last week that Elvis spends almost the entire day flirting with Feather. Really - he won't stop. He sings, fluffs himself up, dances, wiggles his tail feathers in the air, and in between-times he sits in the little finch nest and pouts.

Feather stares out the window and ignores him. I don't know why this makes me think of you, but it does.

11/07/2005 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Mashed potatoes.
English muffins with cream cheese.
Stove-Top stuffing.
Grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Chicken masala.
Caramel upside-down rolls.
Grits. Oh, God. Grits.
Penne with sausage red sauce and fresh bread.

There's probably more, but those are the ones that spring to mind. I never did like pasta until I had a Sicilian boyfriend; his housekeeper taught me about al dente whereas my family had just boiled the crud out of it.

OH, and my mother used to make Spam waffles- you pour in the batter, slap a slice of Spam down on top, and close the waffle iron. When it's done you take it out, drown it in maple syrup, and bingo! Trailer-park comfort food from my childhood. I know it's gross, I can't eat it now, but I do remember what it tastes like.

11/07/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

My maternal side was Jewish and in a Big Way. Rabbis and whatnot.

11/07/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Maureen: You're thinking of Tui and Sul -- how sweet. Must tell you that I'm making Sul a tad less bitchy/more loveable for the rewrite. A tad.

Lili: your waffles & spam reminded me of a chain restaurant in LA (three restaurants, I think): Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Fried chicken and waffles. OMIGOD.

Kate: you know that makes you tribe, whether you like it or not ;o)

11/07/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

Latkes dripping with sour cream, yum. Some of my friends do the apple sauce thing, but I need the sour cream.

Any-way. Comfort food:
Flat enchilladas with homemade red sauce. Or chile rellenos, the way Mom makes 'em. Whaaat? I'm a New Mexican. Chile is a food group.

11/08/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Or chile rellenos dripping with sour cream and stuffed with that wonderful Mexican cheese. What's that stuff called?

11/08/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger jurassicpork said...

Stop, stop! You're making me hungry, Doug! I actually haven't had Jewish food since the early 70's and I miss it!

11/08/2005 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger jurassicpork said...

Poor bastard. I guess lox and bagels are out, too, eh?

11/08/2005 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Well, I can eat low carb bagels . . .

Ugh. I'm making myself sick. Actually, when I get a yen for lox, I'll eat it with cream cheese and cucumber. I don't miss the bagels that much since we can't get real bagels around here anyway.

Salt bagels from a place that knows how to make bagels . . . yum.

11/08/2005 07:20:00 PM  

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