Archive for ‘Jewish food’

April 18th, 2012

Breakfast in America

Could we have kippers for breakfast

Mummy dear, Mummy dear Supertramp may have inspired me to try kippers, but my husband’s love of deli breakfasts made it all possible…

You have no idea of my joy and excitement when I found out what kippers were and how frequently they were on the menu at local Jewish delis.  You see, I grew up eating kippers.  My mother cooks a really good kipper dish, which I always asks her to make when I go home to visit. In Japanese, kippers are called nishin.  My absolute favorite way to have it is by soaking dried kippers in water overnight, then cooking them in a soy sauce based broth until they’re tender.

When you travel to Japan, check the menu for migaki nishin.  It’s not as popular as sushi, still, I highly recommend that you try it. It’s usually served on warm soba noodles, but at home, I just eat it with rice.
“Boy, you are courageous”.  a veteran waitress told me when I ordered kippers at a Jewish deli in L.A..  I guess it’s not the most popular item for breakfast in America, but those like me, who do enjoy them, experience a delicious buttery, salty sensation.

My kippers were served alongside sauteed onions, potatoes, and eggs.   If they had come with a side of rice, I may had experienced the perfect breakfast.  Finally, it pays off to be married to a Jewish guy with an unhealthy obsession with breakfast.

April 16th, 2012

Jewish Deli

My father-in-law always asks me if there’s still a Jewish deli in Tokyo.  Apparently, he saw one when he visited back in the 90’s, and that surprising image has stuck with him.  To give him an answer, I couldn’t rely on experience, I had to trust Google. Growing up in Tokyo, I had never seen or heard of a Jewish deli.  In fact, I didn’t even know what the heck a Jewish deli was until I moved to NYC after graduating from college in Boston.  Come to think of it, did I ever even try a bagel back then?  Luckily, I’ve made up for it since, thanks to my Jewish American husband.

Obviously I’ve changed, because now, Jewish delis are some of my favorite places.  Don’t believe me?  Visit one to experience the excitement for yourself.  As you walk in, every sense is engaged.  You hear veteran servers shouting out orders.  You see black and white cookies and hearty, doughy bagels waiting to be taken to a good home.  You smell succulent pastrami as it’s being sliced, AND if you ask nicely, you can taste a sample.  Finally, at your table, your sense of touch grabs that dill pickle to stave off the hunger pangs you’ve just acquired.  You may only recognize half of the menu and display case items, but you know they must be good as it’s always crowded– ALWAYS.

I’ve come a long way in my appreciation of the Jewish deli.  Before I met my Jewish American husband, only things I ever ordered were items in my comfort zone, like pastrami sandwiches and cheese cake.  To be honest, I was just scared to venture into the unknown, never setting foot into the foreign lands of matzo bowl soup and knishes.  Even when I conquered that fear, one hurdle remained–pronunciation.  How in the world is a Japanese person supposed to order kasha varnishkas or matzo-brie?  Thank goodness I’m long past just pointing to many shades of beige items on the next table, when telling the server what I want.

Now with experience, I can proudly say (and pronounce) “Although I like matzo ball soup, I prefer kreplach soup”.

And no, I still haven’t found a Jewish deli in Tokyo.  While there are many delicatessens which sell cured meats and European delicacies, sadly, there’s not a matzo ball to be found in Tokyo.  Any investors out there?  Give my husband a call.

June 15th, 2011

Black and white cookie

I love Seinfeld.  For a while, that show about nothing became the main reason I stayed in America.  It introduced me to a completely different culture.  Where would a girl from Tokyo learn what a moil was?  Who, if not Jerry, was going to teach me about the cultural significance of Jewish Deli food?  There’s one item in the Jewish culinary world, apart from the salted, cured meats, that’s especially noteworthy, the black and white cookie.You’ve probably seen the big, two-toned cookie a million times at Jewish delis but have you ever tried it?  For the uninitiated, it’s a big and vivid black and white creation tightly wrapped in plastic.  The name “cookie” on this sweet is misleading, and resembles its appearance more than its texture, because it’s more like a thin vanilla cake with two semi-circles of brown and white icing (chocolate and vanilla, although the white icing is sometimes lemon flavored).  I didn’t grow up with any kind of frosting, so at first, it didn’t look very appetizing.  But after seeing a Seinfeld episode, dinner party, I began fantasizing about this delicasy.  In the episode, Jerry and Elaine are at a bakery, where Jerry explains his method of eating the black and white cookie, which involves getting both vanilla and chocolate in the same bite.  His theory?  ‘If people would only look to the cookie’ all racial problems would be solved.  Jerry then raises his cookie in a salute of brotherhood to an African-American gentleman across the store, eating the very same, racially balanced dessert, who returns the gesture.  Surprisingly, it took me over a decade to try the black and white cookie in person, but thanks to the location being Yankee Stadium, it was worth the wait.  To this day, I don’t remember if the Yankees won, but I still remember that cookie.  My first thought after the first bite was, “What?  it’s soft?”  Remembering Jerry’s technique, I tried to get a little bit of both colors in each bite.  To be honest, and with no racial undertones whatsoever, I just prefer the white side.  Sorry Jerry.  The reason?  The black side’s icing usually doesn’t taste anything like chocolate.  It’s one of these “chocolate-y” flavors that doesn’t quite get it right.  Yet, if this cookie had only white icing, it would lose 100% of its cache AND its name would make no sense.  So why produce this riddle of a cookie?Maybe Jerry is right.   Maybe the appeal is just the sentiment reflected on this cookie– In a crazy world, maybe people can only find harmony in the balance of icing on the smiling face of this cookie…  Or maybe it’s just I’ve watched Seinfeld way too many times and I like cake.