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THIS & THAT December 4, 2009
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Oy, The Memories of Our Bubbies

Important dates

This Month...

Editor's Comment
Michael looks at:
Farewell, Shalom and Adieu

Being Jewish Magazine

see a .pdf copy of the current issue

An Open Letter from Abba to His Family

Enough With The Political Finger-Pointing!

Revisiting the Haggadah

Eddy's Recipe List
Victoria Sponge

Book Review
Unstrung Heroes

The Outspeaker
Encouraging violence is never correct

Good times and bad times with Batya

Nathan Weissler
What my friendship with Michael Hanna-Fein meant to me

Marjorie Wolfe
An Interview with Paul Reiser

BC's Backlot
The Last Shalom

Lynn Ruth Miller
How we all became part of a bigger story

Mel Yahre
A few words for my friend

Eddy's Thoughts
Don't let life flutter by

The Bear Facts
How I found Michael


I actually remember my Bubbie with the sugar cube between her teeth, and, of course, eating schmaltz on bread. I could only send this to very few people on my list. Most would not have a clue...they have missed out.

I'm taking it upon myself to help out all you frantic housewives out there with wonderful menus that will lead your children to a healthy, happy, and loving family unit as I knew it in my childhood.

First, buy a housecoat (schmata) and wear it all day, every day. Then go out and buy a live chicken, carry it wrapped in a newspaper to the smooched (slaughterer) who will ritually slaughter it before your very eyes. When you get it home, flick (pluck) your chicken and make sure you don't leave in any pinches (feather ends).

Next, go out and buy a four-foot-long carp with huge whiskers. Fill your bathtub with water and let the fish swim in it for several days..

In the meantime, roll up your Berber broadloom, and remove it from the living room, polish the hardwood floors, cover them in newspaper, cover your couch in clear plastic, or floral slip covers, and don't let anyone into your living room again ...unless they are "company."

Now you're a real balabusta which is a term of respect used for an efficient Jewish housewife and the essence of your universe is in the kitchen. So get out your wooden matches, light the pilot light, get out the volgar holtz (wooden bowl), hock the tzibbeles (chop the onions) and knubble (garlic), and we're Jewish again.

Before we start, however, there are some variations in ingredients because of the various types of Jewish taste (Litvack and Gallitziana).

Just as we Jews have six seasons of the year (winter, spring, summer, fall, slack, and busy), we all focus on a main ingredient which, unfortunately and undeservedly, has disappeared from our diet. I'm talking, of course, about SCHMALTZ (chicken! fat)! Schmaltz has for centuries been the prime ingredient in almost every Jewish dish.

Let's start, of course, with the forshpeiz (appetizer). Gehockteh layber (chopped liver) with schmaltz and tzibbeles (onion) is always good, but how about something more exotic for your dear ones, like boiled whitefish in yoyech (gel). Or gefilteh miltz (stuffed spleen), in which the veins are removed, thank God, and it's fried in -- you guessed it-- schmaltz, bread crumbs, eggs, onions, salt and pepper.

Love it!

Am I making your mouth water yet? Then there are greebenes, which are pieces of chicken skin, deep-fried in schmaltz,onions and salt until crispy brown -- often referred to as Jewish bacon (this makes a great appetizer for the next cardiology convention).

Another favorite, and I'm sure your children will love it, is pe'tcha (jellied calves feet). Simply chop up some cows' feet with your hockmesser (chopper), add some meat, onions, lots of garlic, schmaltz (yes, again), salt and pepper,cook for five hours, and let it sit overnight.

There's also a nice chicken fricassee (stew) using the heart, gorgl (neck), pipick (the navel, a great delicacy, given to the favorite child, usually me), a fleegl (wing) or two, some ayelech (little premature eggs) and other various chicken innards, in a broth of schmaltz, water, paprika, etc. We also have knishes (filled dough) and the eternal question:
"Will I have liver, beef, potatoes, or all three?

Other time-tested favorites are kishkeh, and its poor cousin, helzel (chicken or goose neck). Kishkeh is the gut of the cow, bought by the foot at the kosher butcher. It's turned inside out, scalded and scraped.

One end is sewn up and a mixture of flour, schmaltz (you didn't think we'd leave that out), onions, eggs, salt, pepper, etc., is spooned into the open end and squished down until it is full. Then that end is sewn, and the whole thing is boiled. Yummy!

My personal all-time favorite pastime is watching my Bubby (Grandma) munch on boiled chicken feet. Try that on the kinderlach. (children).

Well, we've finally finished the forshpeiz.

Don't tell me you're full because there's plenty to come.

For our next course, we always had chicken soup with pieces of yellow-white, rubbery chicken skin floating in a greasy sea of lokshen (noodles), farfel (broken bits of matzah), arbiss (chickpeas), lima beans, pietrishkeh, onions, mondlech (soup nuts), knaydlach (dumplings), kasha, (groats) kliskelech and marech (marrow bones).

The main course, as I recall, was either boiled chicken, flanken, kackletten (hockfleish--chopped meat), and sometimes rib steaks which were served either well done, burned, or cremated. Occasionally, we had barbecued liver done to a burned and hardened perfection in our own coal furnace.

Since we couldn't have milk or any dairy products (milchiks) with our meat meals (flayshiks), beverages consisted of cheap pop (Kik, Dominion Dry, seltzer in the spritz bottles), or a glezel tay (glass of hot tea) served in a yohrtzeit (memorial) glass, and sucked through a sugar cube held between the incisors.

Desserts were probably the only things not made with schmaltz, so we never had any.....unless it was flummen (cooked prunes). Mama never learned how to make schmaltz Jell-O.

Well, now you know the secret of how I've grown up to be so tall, sinewy, slim and trim, energetic, extremely clever and modest, and if you want your children to grow up to be like me, you're gontze meshuggah (completely nuts)!

Oh yes, don't forget the loud greps (belch) - the louder the better -- at the end of the meal as you unbutton or unzip your pants. It's often the best part of the repast.

Zei mir gezunt (be well)...and order out Chinese..

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