If Marcel Proust had been a New York Jew…Photo: Lauren Klain Carton
“Show me a man who believes his favorite desserts are those he has eaten as an adult, and I’ll show you a man who had an unhappy childhood.” Alan Richman gets grouchy now and again, but is there anybody working in the food media these days who flourishes so in long-essay form? His current opus for GQ, a ten-page summa on traditional desserts, should be required reading for all pastry chefs. Richman pays tribute to “The Pig’s Dinner” sundae of his youth, the perfect pairing of Pepsi and Hydrox cookies, the dreamy quality of custard, and the underwhelming flavor (but sentimental value) of Yonah Schimmel’s knishes:
I don’t want to be unfair, because the knishes at Yonah Schimmel’s are warm and fresh, which counts for a lot, and they’re famous, which means I could be wrong about not liking them. I had the cherry-cheese, which was cloying and reminded me of a throat lozenge. It was then that I realized that my father—born in 1915 and raised on the Lower East Side—was returning to Yonah Schimmel’s because the knish was his madeleine.