ed­hal­magyi ta­ble talk

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - fast-ed.com.au

You re­ally did fall into the schmaltz pot, Ed­ward

THERE was an older Jewish man who played a cen­tral role in my for­ma­tive years.

Kindly, dap­per and distinctly el­e­gant, he would twirl the end of his thin mous­tache and make thought­ful ob­ser­va­tions.

I was a teenager, and wellen­trenched in an es­tab­lished pat­tern of com­pen­sat­ing for my lack of world­li­ness with an am­ple out­pour­ing of con­fi­dent blus­ter. For me there was no prob­lem too com­plex, no chal­lenge too dif­fi­cult.

Fred would chuckle as he watched my bravado.

“You re­ally did fall into the schmaltz pot, Ed­ward,” Fred ob­served.

Al­though ut­terly be­mused by this, his man­ner left me in no doubt that it was some cryp­tic form of praise.

In fact, it’s an old Ashke­nazi Jewish say­ing that de­scribes a form of un­in­tended good for­tune. To fall in the schmaltz pot is to chance upon the jack­pot.

But what is this “schmaltz” that is in the pot of which Fred spoke? Ac­tu­ally, it’s a food. Schmaltz is a form of ren­dered chicken fat (or oc­ca­sion­ally goose) that was pop­u­lar with the Jewish com­mu­ni­ties of East­ern Europe and Rus­sia. Most an­i­mal f fats are pro­hib­ited un­der th the laws of kosher, in­cludin in­clud­ing cat­tle, sheep, goats an and pigs. More­over, in older tim times the veg­etable oils so pop­u­lar in the Mediter Mediter­ranean were dis­tant, ex­pen­sive and hard to come by. This meant that few forms of cook­ing oil were availa avail­able, and cooks had to m make do. Schmaltz may not be th the health­i­est form of oil but it cer­tainly is rich and de­li­cious, with a dis­tinct chicken over­tone. Used widely in J Jewish cui­sine, it is a also the key in in­gre­di­ent that will gi give a matzo ball its cus­tom­ary ten­der­ness. While this takes a lit­tle while to per­fect, it’s a dish t that will get you throug through win­ter, wellde­serv­ing of its nick­name – Jewish Peni­cillin.

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