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The only thing more ‘Jewish’ than eating food, is arguing over how it should be prepared.

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Should bagels be toasted? Not if they’re fresh, according to purists. (Photo: Gunn’s Bakery, Winnipeg)

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For someone who does not cook, I certainly have strong opinions on how food should be made, especially traditional Jewish dishes. First, I’m kvetching over the insane amount of time over the last few weeks I’ve spent thinking about bagels, and more specifically people who think that freshly made bagels should be toasted.

It turns out my strong opinion and obviously thought-provoking post I put up on social media, that freshly made bagels should definitely NOT be toasted, caused an insane amount of varying opinions.

Obviously, there are many people like me who, right now, have nothing better to do than to debate something as important as how a bagel should be eaten.  One person kvetched that, “My hubby and I have been having this discussion for over 25 years. Fresh bagels should NEVER be toasted in my opinion. So, he is wrong.”

To which I replied, “Yes, he is wrong.” One commentator even created a hashtag, asking, “Would one bring home a fresh baguette or croissant from the bakery and shove it in the toaster? #Bagelshaverightstoo.” Another kvetched, “Toasting is for inferior bagels.” One went so far to kvetch that it’s a “travesty” to toast freshly baked bagels. 

But there were just as many others who were “Pro-toasting” freshly made bagels, to which I jokingly kvetch, “You’re just wrong.” Another person didn’t want to stir the pot writing, “I would never foist my beliefs on another. Pro-choice all the way!” I even questioned my friendship with my very best friend who wrote, “I like bagels toasted regardless of whether they are fresh or not. It’s all about the crunch factor.”

Then the argument spiralled into what city makes the best bagels: Montreal, New York, or Toronto. (Montreal bagels all the way!)

All this kvetching and debating over bagels led me to think of other traditional Jewish foods, like Matzah Ball soup.

Much like the married couple who have been in the bagel debate for 25 years, discussions about how hard or soft Matzah balls should be, literally has divided my family, for my entire life, and still does to this day.

Every time my mother serves Matzah Balls, there is a discussion at the table. At one point, my mother would even make two different batches of Matzah Balls, because my father and I strongly believed, and still do, that matzah balls should be harder rather than softer, while my mother and brothers preferred softer matzah balls. I’ll be candid. My father and I are right. Everyone else in my family is wrong. It’s a travesty, I think, that my mother now only makes one batch of…soft matzah balls. It’s so wrong!

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The same goes for potato latkes, which should be crispy on the outside, but softer in the inside. Every single year, I find myself either kvetching or kvelling over my mother’s latkes, because sometimes a batch will be, in my opinion, perfect, while other times? Meh. Not so much.

I will also add that sour cream goes much better with latkes than applesauce, which no one seems to touch, but somehow is always on the table. Who are you people putting applesauce on latkes?

Then, the other day my mother brought over a box of hamantaschen, for Purim, and I kvelled loudly, “Awesome! Strawberry jam in the middle!” In my right opinion, it’s just wrong to serve hamantaschen filled with prunes. It’s like someone offering me what I think is a chocolate chip cookie, only to take a bite realizing that no, those brown things are actually raisins.

I want to kvetch to whomever offered me this raisin-cookie-disguised-as-a-chocolate-chip cookies, that I feel duped by them, and whomever served me, I just want to kvetch, “I’m not sure I can trust you anymore.” This happens too with rugelach, which should be chocolate, but then I’m often tricked and what I taste is not chocolate but cinnamon, which is just so…wrong.

And I feel the same about kugel, especially kugel with raisins (Again, a hard NO!) and will kvetch that there should be a warning label, whenever kugel is served, because I need to know if what I’m about to eat is sweet kugel, which to me, tastes way too sweet, so just no. But a regular kugel casserole? Yum!

Adding raisins to lockshun (noodle) kugel was an innovation by Jews in Poland in the 1700’s. (Photo: thisoldgal.com)

I think we can all agree that, when it comes to french toast, Challah is always the right choice for making perfect french toast. If you disagree, you’re just wrong. Kvetch away, but you’re still wrong.

When it comes to dressings, you guessed it. I also have strong opinions. A pastrami sandwich is perfect with hot mustard, not boring old regular mustard.

And gefilte fish is pretty much only enjoyable when it is served with a boiled carrot on top, covered entirely with horseradish. And the stronger the horseradish the better. Regular horseradish is for novices. Finally, when it comes to Passover, one of my favourite dishes is Matzoh Brei, which is a tricky dish to perfect, because, like latkes, they need to be the perfect mix of not undercooked, but not overcooked.

Pretty much, for someone who doesn’t know how to make any of these dishes, I certainly have a lot to kvetch about, unless it’s made my way — the right way. (I also have a feeling that I won’t be invited to all that many dinners anymore.)

Still, I’d love to continue these debates, on how traditional Jewish foods should be made, since it is really nice, in these uncertain and worrisome times, to Kvetch or Kvell over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is totally unimportant to get so emotionally invested in. But here we are… Kvetch away!

Rebecca Eckler’s latest memoir is called Blissfully Blended Bullshit

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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