Rhapsody in Schmaltz
Bagels, deli sandwiches, and kosher dills are only a few of the Jewish foods to have crossed into American culture and onto non-Jewish plates. From the Bible and Talmud to the delis of North America, Rhapsody in Shmaltz traces the history and impact of the cuisine that Yiddish-speaking Jews from Central Eastern Europe brought across the Atlantic and that their North American descendants have developed and refined.
With an eye for detail and a healthy dose of humor, Michael Wex also examines the role of these foods in modern culture, from temple to television. He looks at Diane Keaton’s pastrami sandwich in Annie Hall, kosher chocolate Santa Clauses, and the bridge of blintzes that links The Three Stooges to The Big Bang Theory, shedding light on how Jewish food has affected our modern imaginations.
Rhapsody in Schmaltz is a masterful work, one I’ll turn to over and over for both historical reference and a hearty chuckle.
Only Wex can write an insightful, witty read on the history of Jewish food and its ingredients. According to Leviticus, ‘all the fat is the Lord’s.’ Lately I think my butcher has been giving me too much of God’s share.
Rhapsody in Schmaltz is an entertaining and fascinating journey in the humor, history and traditions of food and Judaism.
Chicken, Kishke, Cholent and Matzoh have dominated the Yiddish menu and kept it in virtual bondage for hundreds of years. Rhapsody in Schmaltz tells the true story behind these fetishized dishes and gives us what Yiddish, no stranger to pain, calls the Essen Emes.
Only Michael Wex could unravel the delectable mysteries of Ashkenazi cuisine with the precision of a Talmudic commentator and the wit of a Jon Stewart. Here are all the usual suspects–from kasha and knishes to kugels–but their explication comes by way of Chaucer and Ray Charles, Petronius, Pynchon, and Homer Simpson. A savory must-read for all food and language mavens, who will discover the true Yiddish vegetables, not to mention, the subtle erotic sirensong of a challah.
An enticing tour of Judaism’s culinary past. Wex brings lighthearted humor and his considerable expertise on Jewish culture to a wide-ranging look at Jewish food, from biblical dietary restrictions to New York bagels. An informative, merrily entertaining culinary and cultural history.
Don’t miss a chance to remember what we ate when life seemed to be much simpler.
Without being “schmaltzy” (sentimental), Wex conveys his knowledge of Yiddish culture and food laws with a healthy dose of humor.