KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Jewish Comfort Food
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Getting Ready for Tet
Blogging Bloggers
The River Cottage Series, An Obsession
Japanese Yuzu
Celebrity's Pasta Lover's Cookbook
Coriander Cream, or, A Flavor You Would Not Expect...
"Different things!"
My (insert adjective of your choice here) Clementi...
Speakeasy and Carry a Swizzle Stick: Bourbon & Bra...
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Jewish Comfort Food

I've just returned home from a week in Boca Raton, Florida, where I was visiting family. My mother's side, the New York Jews. Besides making the rounds with my aunt, meeting my cousin's 1 1/2 year old twins and visiting my 86 year old grandmother in her new little apartment at an assisted living facility, it was important to eat a few times at Way Beyond Bagels.

It was there that I had my first authentic bagel and lox outside of New York City.

Not to mention Black & White Cookies, super almond-extracty Rainbow Cake, a pure, uncut version of smoked whitefish salad, the full line of Dr. Brown sodas, including the intriguing celery pop, and a delightfully familiar, and maybe a little grating, noise of thick lower New York accents.

Like any comfort food, when we re-experience it again, it is cause for a celebration and of memories. And like all memories, their arrival is bittersweet. Memories arrive because something's been lost. Or we've moved to a place where our tribe does not band together and make what we grew up with.

Luckily I moved mere blocks from Saul's when I came to live in the East Bay a year ago. It's here I can find chopped liver almost as good as what I remember. When I want to conjure my late grandfather, Samuel Gordon, I buy a few chubs and eat them alone. Shiny and wrinkly gold, the chub arrives wrapped in white paper, with all its parts except for the guts. Smoked whole, they're slick with a distinctly fatty fishy smoky taste and scent. I've never taken part in cold herring from a jar but my legs go weak for smoked fish and I was once graced by homemade gefilte fish.

But bagels? It is my ultimate opinion that there are no real bagels in the Bay Area. I have tried and retried them all. I've been cajoled by hopeful and starry eyed non-Jews as well as other deperate New York Jews. Nope, they do not exist here. Just because bread is round does not mean it's a bagel. When a bagel is a bagel, every gram of your being knows it. It's taste and texture, the smell of your grandmother's kitchen. It's whipped butter, freshly sliced red onions, and too much cream cheese.

So, nu? I just don't eat them here. I reason to my born-again-Californian self that bagels need to be eaten in their own climate. They need to be in season, and although Northern California is home to many an agricultural delicacy, bagels just do not thrive in this soil. Bagels must be eaten where there is a predominance of kvetching weather, schvitzing heat, and other New York Yids.

And Way Beyond Bagels cures this homesick itch. Even though it's in Florida.

I have a whole carry on bag full of 2 dozen said bread product to prove it. Now it's just a matter of sharing them with those who understand the gravity of such luggage...

If you're looking to cure your Eastern European and/or New York Jewish deli food cravings, I give you this small list of places to start:

California Street Deli
Moishe's Pippic
Saul's Deli & Restaurant
Old Krakow

Or if you want to read more about what those who long for Jewish deli food do in the Bay Area, check out this article in The Berkeley Monthly written by John Harris, a man who has even gone so far as to make a movie about the lost Deli. I'm excited to say I'll be privy to a screening of the movie this Thursday!

Labels: , , , , , ,



Anonymous shelly said...

You can barely find a good bagel in New York City anymore. Saul's, however, does make a good corned beef sandwich.

2/12/2007 3:06 PM

Anonymous melissa said...

i'm not sure i could ever leave ny for a place without bagels. not that i eat them so much, but just knowing that they're here helps me get through the day. you can mail order bagels from H and H which seems like a decent option though they aren't my fave.... if i was looking for a Jewish bread fix from afar, i think i'd opt for Kossars bialys. you toast them anyway, so a day in the mail won't hurt too much and they are yumeroo.

2/13/2007 4:58 AM

Blogger Joy said...

Shuna, love, you better be sharing some of those bagels.

Also, I'm partial to the ones Miller's East Coast West Deli flies in from NYC. Closest I've found.

2/13/2007 6:19 AM

Blogger DM said...

Best bagels I've found in the bay area are down at Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels on California Ave in Palo Alto.

2/13/2007 12:26 PM

Blogger D-man said...

Howdy there Shuna, my monkey LOVES bagels, as do I, and therefore recently attempted my own while making pretzels. I used my sourdough, gave 'em a boil then an egg wash before baking. They ended up chewy and yeasty and reminded me of Nana Cohen's house when I was tiny. Served with gobs of the white fluff and lox it is one of my earliest food memories. It's no wonder that smoked salmon is probably my next favorite thing to sourdough.......I'd love to talk bagels with ya' sometime. I volunteer for the tues berkeley farmers' from 5-ish to about 7, and apparently live about a mile from you. Thanks for dropping by the ranch for a sniff of some souffle.

2/13/2007 2:46 PM

Blogger ByTheBay said...

Before learning that I will never again be able to eat wheat or gluten... I tried hard to find a decent bagel out here and I must be honest... I'd choose Lender's (mass-produced) bagels over Noah's any day. The West Coast simply does not know how to do bagels. NYC still has H&H which are the hands-down best. I haven't found good Jewish food here either, sadly. I thought Saul's food was not very good. Now I am kosher and can't eat there at all - I find it rather odd that a Jewish eatery would not be kosher. *shrug*

I think Jewish food is well worth mail ordering from the east coast!

2/13/2007 4:42 PM

Blogger JenniferBB said...

Oh I hear you! When I was in seminary in Berkeley in the mid 90s--just as Noah's Bagels was on the ascent I was adamaent that folks try a REAL bagel. So whenever I went home to NYC I'd bring home H and H bagels (I used to live a block away and they didn't deliver then) and they would blow people's minds. At the time I managed to subsist on Murray's bagels (which used to be across the street from Market Hall on College Ave).

Now I'm back in New York State and I still have to go downstate to get a REAL bagel.

2/14/2007 1:59 PM

Anonymous Fatemeh said...

Oh. OH.

Look at the crumb of that begell.

2/20/2007 6:11 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.