For many non-religious Jews like me, our connection to our religion and ancestors is through food.
Last week, one of my Jewish Facebook friends shared the new Buzzfeed Jewish Food Taste Test video with me.
If you are Jewish, you will think this is really funny.
If you aren’t Jewish, you’ll find it more informative than funny.
But at the end of the video, you’ll probably still be wondering what exactly is the food mentioned in the Buzzfeed video. So first watch the video, and then read on to find out more about each of the foods mentioned.
I decided to write about this because today is Yom Kippur, the most holy holiday for Jews. If I’m not going to temple, I can at least share a little education about Jewish foods with the world.
My kugel is in the oven, almost ready to take to my Mom’s for our break fast dinner (the meal eaten after 24 hours of fasting).
I no longer attend services or fast for Yom Kippur, but I really enjoy the dinner afterwards. Kugel is one of my top 3 favorite foods. Even though there will only be 4 of us at dinner, I made a full size recipe so I can eat leftovers for a few more days.
Jewish Foods Reviewed in the Video:
1. Gefilte Fish
Gefilte fish is a mix of chopped fish, onions, eggs and matzo meal (similar to bread crumbs) formed into a ball. They sell it in the stores in a gelled substance or a broth. We always bought it in the gel, and in glass jars, not big cans.
Not sure if there is a difference, but that’s what we bought.
It is always eaten cold. Most of the people who eat it put a little horseradish on top, which creates an odd mix of really really bland with super strong hot contrast. In most Jewish families, there is a mix of people who like it and hate it.
I can’t imagine anyone who tries it for the first time as an adult liking it.
You can make it from scratch. My grandma sometimes did…and it was much better than what you get at the store.
The video describes kugel as apple pie pasta, or macaroni & cheese that wants to be cake. Both descriptions aren’t that far off.
There are a ton of kugel recipes out there, and the one tasted in the video is likely one that has a small amount of apples and cinnamon mixed in. Imagine 90% custardy dairy pasta with 10% apple pie filling.
I had a relative that always added canned pineapple to her kugels with a bit of cinnamon.
Personally, I’ve never liked kugel with fruit.
There are also dairy and non-diary versions. I like the dairy version without cream cheese.
My grandmother’s kugel recipe, which is what I’m bringing to tonight’s dinner, has butter, eggs, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese and a little sugar mixed into the noodles. I’ve changed up the topping from cornflakes to a brown sugar oatmeal mix inspired by my cousin Susie’s kugel I tried about a year ago.
If you like mild creamy pasta dishes – fettuccine alfredo or baked mac & cheese, you’ll like this.
3. Matzoh Ball Soup
I love the description in the video of a little bit of broth and a giant sponge in a bowl.
That’s exactly the way matzoh ball soup is served in my family. Imagine about an inch of clear chicken broth, a couple of sliced carrots, maybe some chunks of celery and one or two of these big dumpling like balls.
It’s hard to explain why we all love this so much, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like matzoh balls.
In my family, the soup is served to order. One or two matzoh balls. With or without carrots. YUM!
4. Chopped Liver
The guy who said it’s a pate is the one that is right on.
This is another one of those foods that I think you only like if you grew up on it. And even then, you might not like it.
Or you love it. There’s no middle ground with this one.
I’m in the LOVE IT camp.
In my family we serve it as an appetizer the same way you would serve a spreadable cheese ball. It’s spread either on mini rye bread rounds or crackers.
At Jewish deli’s, you also see it served quite often as a sandwich. Sometimes all by itself, sometimes combined with pastrami or corned beef.
We didn’t really eat much rugelach in my family. It’s not that we didn’t like them, but my mom and grandma didn’t make them and we normally had desserts made from scratch rather than store bought.
The filling varies, but if you like sweets, you’ll like these.
Manishewitz is actually a brand name, like Yellow Tail, not the type of wine inside the bottle. Most people I know call this sugary sweet wine Mogen David, the other major brand of this kosher wine. Basically it is concord grape wine that has not fermented, making it kosher for Passover.
I think it is HORRIBLE.
Imagine Mad Dog wine from your youth.
It’s traditional to drink it during the Passover sedar. Actually, the sedar calls for you to drink 5 (small) glasses of it. When I was a child, all of the kids got real wine at the sedar. Which is why every Jewish kid would get drunk for the first time at a sedar. Nowadays I think most people serve the kids grape juice.
Surprisingly, I didn’t even like it as a kid. Then again, I didn’t like grape juice either.
Jewish Foods Not in the Video:
There are quite a few traditional Jewish foods that didn’t make the video. Some because they aren’t odd enough to be funny. Others because the video couldn’t be too long or people would lose interest.
More traditional Jewish foods:
- latkes (potato pancakes)
- beef brisket
I just bought some farmer’s cheese so I’ll be making blintzes soon and posting them on the website. I plan to share my latke recipe sometime too.
The others aren’t my specialties, so I might need to get my brother to make them and let me take pictures while he is working.
What is your favorite Jewish food?
Did I miss anything that should be added to the list? Share your favorites, or hated, in the comments below.
I took the pictures for the kugel, chopped liver on cracker, matzoh brei, whitefish salad and charoset. The rest of the pictures came from Flickr. If you right click on the Flickr images and open them in a new tab, you’ll see the image title which includes the person who posted them to Flickr.