The Appetizing Store

October 31st, 2015 § 0 comments

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was an affordable, funky, comfortable city known, then and now, as New York. Among the city’s many amenities was the “appetizing store.” This was a small store that sold smoked fish (Nova Scotia salmon, salty lox, sable, sturgeon, kippered salmon, herring, whitefish); olives (green and black); pickles (from a barrel), cole slaw, potato salad. On the shelves were canned and jarred items such as salmon, tuna and anchovies. Some stores offered dried fruits, nuts and halvah. “Appetizing stores” were omnipresent on every shopping street in the Jewish neighborhoods of Manhattan, The Bronx , Brooklyn and Queens. Today, only two survive: Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop on the Upper West Side. (Yes, there are two big time smoked fish landmarks on the Upper West Side: Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass. But, Zabar’s is a megaplex offering housewares, cheese, prepared foods, breads, sweets, etc. Greengrass is as much a restaurant as it is an “appetizing store.”) R & D and Murray’s have loyalists. SJ insists that R & D has the ultimate smoked fish and salads. Others think Murray’s experienced hand slicers are accomplished artists. HG leans toward R & D but finds Zabar’s sable and red salmon caviar superior. HG has heard that Murray’s has become a bit moldy. R & D, on the other hand, has become reinvigorated with an energetic younger generation that has taken over and expanded the Russ & Daughter’s brand. In HG’s youth, it was HG’s Sunday task to shop at the “appetizing store” on Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx and bring home the fixings for the joyous Sunday brunch. It was the job of the father of the household to visit the neighborhood bakery for the essential bagels, bialys, pletzels and rye bread. Moms took care of the cream cheese, sweet butter and sour cream. In the immediate World War Two years, a certain casual jacket became popular among Jewish men. A four button affair, it had a tweed body and camel hair sleeves. It was designed for weekend casual activities. It was known as the “Bagel Coat” because it was the obligatory costume of men fetching those baked (but first boiled) treats.

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