Get Your Seder on at Seymour BurtonConsider the exiled East Village Jew: She sits in a 350-square-foot walk-up tenement inferior to the one her great-grandmother occupied a hundred years earlier. She hasn’t been to shul in years. Her Sri Lankan boyfriend took her for a whole hog feast at Daisy May for their anniversary. But there’s still a way for her to get back to her Jewish roots, because Seymour Burton is doing a Seder on April 20, the second night of Passover.
Back of the House
Russ & Daughters Immortalized on PBSThe Jews of New York, PBS’s new documentary, could have any number of heroes; we were pleased to see that the family behind downtown lox legend Russ & Daughters was chosen to represent the New York–immigrant experience. As we recently noted here, their Houston Street store is one of the only things keeping the old Lower East Side’s Jewish life from disappearing into history. As scion Josh Russ Tupper tells us, “We’re perpetuating and cultivating the culture of Jewish experience. And whether we’re religious and go to temple is independent of the fact that we’re providing an experience of the Jewish–immigrant era of New York. It’s really important to maintain what it was like and what it is like.” Not to mention, they have some very nice herring there.
Russes among stars of ‘The Jews of New York’ [Alfred University]
Back of the House
So This 2nd Avenue Deli Reopening — Is It Good for the Jews?
The 2nd Avenue Deli is back. But is it a harbinger of a Jewish renaissance or just the last fading pang of New York’s Jewish twilight? The question is raised in today’s issue of The Jewish Week, and it’s a good one. Despite the return of Chez Lebewohl, the world of Jewish food is already little more than a memory: Take away a few landmarks like Russ and Daughters, Katz’s, Yonah Schimmel, and Sammy’s Roumanian, and the entire world of Jewish food would be as forgotten as the Punic Wars. All the dairy restaurants, Romanian steakhouses, cafeterias, candy stores, bakeries, appetizing stores — they’re already forgotten, even in distant Brooklyn and Queens. The Week asked Arthur Schwartz, probably the city’s foremost authority on old-time New York food, and he gives a dismal picture: “Schwartz maintains that Jewish food has suffered greatly in quality over the last few decades, since Jews tend to eat their own food only on holidays — ‘and then we make everything we know, and then everyone gets sick.’” Add to that contemporary Jews’ horror of the fatty meats that were the Jewish kitchen’s stock in trade, and you have a recipe for cultural oblivion. Can a revived 2nd Avenue Deli, or the brisket revival staged by a few barbejews, stem the tide? Stranger things have happened.
‘Not Just A Deli Like Any Other’ [Jewish Week]
Related: It’s Time to Get Excited About the Second Avenue Deli
The Orange Line
Riding the V Line: Ben’s Best, the Pride of Rego ParkWe’re riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way.
Katz’s, the Carnegie, and the 2nd Avenue Deli are the pride of Manhattan, but Ben’s Best still belongs to Rego Park. Get off the V at 63rd Drive, walk past Wiggles strip club, and there you are.
Mario Batali, Food Network Split; Vermin at Da Silvano and Peter LugerThe Food Network dumps Mario Batali, and he dumps Iron Chef America in return. [NYP]
Da Silvano‘s media connections won’t keep rat spottings out of the news as Inside Edition will air footage of the vermin tonight alongside similarly damning video of both Peter Luger and Blue Ribbon. [Eater]
“Nobody at the Bryant Park tents has to starve, sleep or stay sober” during fashion week thanks to sponsorships including Eleni’s cookies, Nespresso, and most importantly the entire Spanish wine region of Rioja. [NYDN]
Art Films! About Gefilte Fish! At the Jewish Museum!Food is at the heart of New York Jewish culture, and if you don’t believe us, check out the Jewish Museum’s exhibit of short films on the subject. “Food for Thought: A Video Art Sampler,” whose title you’ll have to endure until February 27 when the whole shebang ends, includes two shorts from the seventies and two more from the aughts. In artist Martha Rosler’s famous Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), an angry woman parodies a cooking show in which all the tools are weapons (nothing explicitly Jewish here, though Rosler is a member of the tribe); in Jessica Shokrian’s mini-commentary on displaced people Ameh Jhan (2001), an elderly Iranian-Jewish woman makes meatballs in contemporary Los Angeles. The other films make an excellent pair: In Laura Kronenberg (Cavestani)’s Abbie Making Gefilte Fish (1973), Abbie Hoffman prepares the dish on Christmas Eve in the Chelsea Hotel; Boaz Arad’s Gefilte Fish (2005) shows an artist exploring the food and his mother’s preparation of it through the use of a puppet, parrot, and other bizarro approaches. We don’t understand why this hasn’t been proclaimed the event of the season.
“Food for Thought: A Video Art Sampler,” Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., at 92nd St.; 212-423-3200.
Oh, That Soup NaziWe were misled by last week’s heart-quickening “Meet the Soup Nazi” ad, which led to this post. Al Yeganeh, the man who inspired the Seinfeld character (and who detests the “Soup Nazi” tag, preferring to call himself the “Soup Man”), was not actually present. Actor Larry Thomas, who played the character, was the one promoting the show’s new DVD. (Apparently, they didn’t want Michael Richards.) Also, contrary to what we wrote, Yeganeh doesn’t hate being called “the Soup Nazi” because he’s Jewish. He is not a member of the tribe. Evidently, he simply resents his television image. “Al truly feels like Seinfeld ruined his life,” his rep tells us. “He was doing very well before the show came along.”
Earlier: Soup Nazi to Boil Over at Appearance?
Soup Nazi to Boil Over at Appearance?
Al Yeganeh, Seinfeld’s celebrated “Soup Nazi,” has recently been making a blizzard of public appearances promoting his Original SoupMan restaurant chain. (Yeganeh , who is Jewish, despises the “soup Nazi tag” and refuses to even mention or address it. His site simply refers to the show inspired by him as the “Soup episode.”) Given the chef’s famous testiness, his 5 p.m. appearance at f.y.e. might be worth witnessing. The ads tout the chance to “meet ‘the soup Nazi’ in person” and “have him sign your copy of Seinfeld Season 7.” Is there any way to take odds on how many times Yeganeh gets called a Nazi or is asked to say “No soup for you!” before he blows his top? We would put the over-under at two and a half.
Meet the Soup Nazi, f.y.e., 1290 Sixth Ave., at 52nd St., 5 p.m.