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