Imagine a future without Momofuku pork buns, say, or Crack Pie, or cupcakes. It could happen. Well, maybe not the cupcakes; like cockroaches, those things are here to stay. Still, trendy dishes come and trendy dishes go. Today’s Cronut could be tomorrow’s Charlotte Russe. Even non-trendy, seemingly Teflon stalwarts aren’t safe. There’s no more poignant reminder of that fact than the September fire that shut down the Gabila factory out in Copiague. Who knew that one Long Island operator had a virtual monopoly on fried, square knishes? Shouldn’t there be a knish-disaster-preparedness plan in place?
We leave it to you, Mayor-elect De Blasio. Which is why we’ve decided to take stock of some of New York’s old-time iconic foodstuffs like bagels, bialys, pike quenelles, and baked Alaskas, then assign them an Endangered Culinary Species rating, and also tell you where you can still get a delicious rendition of each. Some things, we’ve discovered, have gone the way of the Carolina parakeet and the woolly mammoth. (Rest in peace, Nesselrode pie.) The good news is we found many authentic versions of old classics going strong or at least hanging on, as well as some loose or newfangled interpretations of dishes that, although they might rankle purists, are nevertheless a step in the right preservationist direction. What’s more, at press time, the Gabila factory—supplier to Katz’s, 2nd Ave Deli, and everyone else—was almost up and running and ready to start cranking out the square knishes again.
This article originally appeared in the December 23, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.