Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fun Playing With Jewish Soul Food, Part 1

My Uncle Jerry coined the phrase "Jewish Soul Food" to describe a bagel with lox - and he is right. When pristine Belly Lox and fresh New York Bagels (or bialys) are involved - it is a true delight for the senses - from the eyes, to the palate, to the olfactory.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, there was only one kind of lox: Belly Lox. There was another smoked fish that was sometimes served (especially to older folks who had to "watch their salt") called "Novie." But Novie was Novie and Lox was Lox.

Then, sometime in the late 70's-early 80's - Lox began to disappear. People (and restaurants) began to refer to Novie (or "Nova") as Lox. More than once, my dad would have to return to the deli to exchange a package of lox because even though he'd specified "belly" - they'd given him nova. And in our book - nova is simply flavorless.

I've almost given up on getting Belly Lox in Cleveland. Mr. Brisket will get it special, if I can arrange for a large enough order. But at $40 a pound, or thereabouts, it is a rare treat indeed.

I know it is costing $40 a pound, because we bought some for our last meal in NY last week, at the venerable chain purveyor Bagel Boss (alas - Delray Caterers in East Northport is long gone). But, oh, how sweet it was!

Note the exquisitely thin slices and deep red color. It took the deli man (and the youngsters working the front had to bring in the big man from the back to slice the fish) quite a while to slice up this half pound.

Is there a more beautiful thing than fresh Belly Lox perched atop fresh Temp-tee Whipped Cream Cheese on a freshly baked Onion Bialy?

And a large glass of cold milk to wash it down!

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