Monday, August 09, 2004

I don't understand why people fetishize kugel. (1)

I'm not saying anything against kugel. It's fine, like six-dozen other good things to eat. But why does it provoke such mass hysteria? It's just a clot of fat and potatoes. Half the caterers don't even make it properly.

My own AC (2) doesn't even bother. Too much work. Too little pay-off. Besides her own holy ancestors never went near the stuff. They were Austrian Jews, from Vienna, oberlanders that is. Potato dishes were for the country mice, the unterlanders. They were the ones who ate kugel, not her and her neighbors. In fact, until she arrived in America, the AC's grandmother never once saw a cholent with potatoes in it.

As a child, the AC's grandmother ate a regular Friday night dinner that simply wouldn't fly in America. The main course was fish. No chicken. No soup. Just a large stuffed fish, with trimmings. And according to her, all her Jewish neighbors did the same. The so-called "authentic European Friday night meal" of soup, chicken and kugel was unknown to her. (3)

Isn't it a little sad? Today very few religious Jew would serve fish, and fish alone, for Friday night supper. Yet, if my grandmother-in-laws recollections are sound (and I am sure they are) this was an authentically European practice, followed by authentically Jewish families, in at least one European city. American Jewry, with it's kugel, rushes to romaticizes European Jewry, but, in fact, only one small corner of Europe is being remembered. The ways of central and western Europe are gone, and largely forgotten.

One more crime to put on Hitler's account, I suppose.
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(1) Examples of kugel being fetishized: (a) The mothers who, on Friday afternoon, bring trays of the stuff to their sons at sleep-away camp. (b) The reaction at any kiddush when kugel is served (c) The RN who pulled a piece of uneaten kugel out of a garbage can at one kiddush saying, "its shabbos" as if that explained it all.
2) Ayshes Chayil, or wife.
3) Also she, like her mother and grandmother before her, is an Oma, not a Bubby. And there are many more examples, examples I'll discuss in future blogs.
Comments:

Many years ago I spent a Shabbos with a family in Zurich. Much to my chagrin, Shabbos lunch consisted of lox - that was pretty much it.

Worst Shabbos meal I've ever had.

Kugel Rules.  

I'm not saying anything against kugel. It's fine, like six-dozen other good things to eat. But why does it provoke such mass hysteria?  

I blogged your fetish question. jewishfringe.blogspot.com.

I luuuuvs me my kugel. Except store bought. That ain't right. Its got to be homemade.  

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