Schmaltz Is Back!

January 23rd, 2015 § 1 comment

Yes, schmaltz, delectable chicken fat, is making a comeback. It’s in the news. The New York Times recently reported that restaurant chefs and knowing home cooks are using the magical ingredient to enhance a variety of dishes. While some cardiologists and health police deride the golden goodness of chicken fat others are proving that, yes indeed, Moms may have been right all along citing schmaltz’s high level of heart healthy mono-saturated fats. Well, chicken fat may not be as good for the body as kale, but it provides real solace for the soul. HG’s favorite after school snack was a slice of Stuhmer’s pumpernickel bread covered with a good quarter-inch of chicken fat, kosher salt and black pepper. (Sometimes, HG’s thoughtful Mom added a slice of raw onion). Thus fortified, little HG was ready for competitive street games of punchball and “association” football. (The street was a playground in the 30’s and wartime 40’s since automobiles were scarce). HG’s Dad’s favorite use of chicken fat was in the form of “grieven” (or “gribenehs”). These were crisp, salty, lush bits of rendered chicken skin. The late, beloved Hershele Zvi Freimann would accompany this treat with a slice of rye bread and a modest tumbler of Park & Tilford rye whiskey. HG has a fond memory of HG’s Mom’s chopped hard boiled eggs and onions mixed with plenty of schmaltz. Her “latkes” (potato pancakes) fried in chicken fat were superior. There was plenty of chicken fat in her chopped liver. This was accompanied by slices of pungent black radish, also liberally gilded with schmaltz. The Temple of Schmaltz is Sammy’s Romanian Restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. There’s a pitcher of schmaltz on every table. There’s also a bottle of vodka encased in ice. So, be assured, a raucous, inebriated, nostalgic good time is to be had. A schmaltzy joint, indeed.

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