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Shameless Self Promotion

March 7, 2011

Are there any long-time readers out there who still remember Deli Days? Perhaps you wisely blocked it out. Allow me to refresh your memory, and at the same time explain to all of the new folks what happened.

I love Jewish food. What can I say, it’s in my blood. Well, back in October 2009 I was involved with an organization that was brining a speaker to SUNY Albany to discuss a bit about the history of the Jewish deli in America. I found the lecture to be really interesting, if not as food focused as I might have liked.

Anyhow, to get people excited about this event, I ran ten consecutive days of posts all about my favorite deli foods. The final post really served to recap the previous nine and stands as a testament to a good idea that just went on too damn long.

You can love a pastrami sandwich, but I guarantee that if you have one a day for ten days, it’s going to be a long time until you even bear to stand the smell of the stuff.

Well now I’m involved with another organization that is doing something exciting with Jewish food. Lucky for you, I’ve learned my lesson. There will be no month long Jewish Food Frenzy. Instead I’ll tell you about the event today, and in the weeks to come I may have some additional relevant stories to share.

Also, this time instead of just helping to promote the event, I’ll be an active participant.

Did you know there has been an annual Jewish Food Festival in Schenectady for the past seven years? Well, there has. This will be year eight. And I’m constantly amazed when I talk to local friends (including the food-obsessed) how few of them have ever heard of it. Apparently it gets bigger and better every year.

For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve never been. In my first few years in the Capital Region, Schenectady seemed like a far off distant land. But now that I’ve been making the trip a couple times each week, I realize just how close The Electric City is to dear old Albany.

Mark your calendars because this year’s festival is less that a month away. It’s Sunday, April 3, from noon to 4 p.m. at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady. Even better, RSVP with Facebook and it will remind you to go, so I don’t have to.

Adult admission is $15 and children under 17 years old are free. Entry gets you:
–  Unlimited samples of traditional and modern Jewish foods (kosher style)
–  Live cooking demonstrations
–  Live Klezmer music

But here is the kicker that didn’t make it into the press release. The Profussor along with Leah the Nosher will have our very own Jewish food bloggers table at the festival. You like challah? Leah loves challah. I lurve challah. Our table will be challah, and Leah makes some great challah.

I’m not making anything. But I’m bringing the butter. Right now I’m evaluating my butter options, but they will be special. And I’m hoping that you will come and taste all my delicious butters, because god knows there won’t be enough cholesterol already at the festival.

At this point you may be asking yourself, how is butter Jewish? I though that’s why God invented schmaltz.

Well, you would have a point. But some would argue that the most important Jewish holiday is Shabbat. And it’s on Shabbat that we eat challah. Part of the holiday meal is about creating a space that is special and distinct from the rest of the week. It is why some families will dress up, or take out the nice table linens, or drink wine when otherwise they might not.

And so we eat challah. It’s a soft, rich and sweet bread that is distinct from the hard and hearty stuff consumed during the week. Some observances call for the challah to be generously salted at the table, since salt itself used to be an incredible luxury.

What I love about Reform Judaism is that I can look at the spirit of these traditions and find meaning in them for my family and me. And in this case that manifests itself in the tradition of breaking out the good butter and olive oil for our Friday night challah.

In addition to Leah’s challah and my butter, both Gershon’s and Ben & Bill’s will be there. There will be knishes and blintzes. A guy named Del Salmon will be making gravlax. And in the weeks to come I plan to have some more stories about the food and the people who will be making it for the eighth annual Jewish Food Festival. Leah may have some too.

The best news is that you won’t have to listen to me drone on about Jewish food for the next four weeks. I learned my lesson last time. There will be a few reminders here and there. But tomorrow, I’m moving on to something else entirely.

Promise.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    March 7, 2011 11:17 am

    Is the dude really named Del Salmon? That’s great! Also love your first paragraph wherein you “brine” your speaker. How delightfully Jewish!

  2. llcwine permalink
    March 7, 2011 11:27 am

    any kishka or kreplachs?

  3. March 7, 2011 12:56 pm

    I went a couple of years ago – it’s fun, but very congested.
    For me, the standouts were the egg creams and whitefish salad. I snuck in my own gluten-free “bagel” so I could enjoy some lox and cream cheese.

  4. Jenny on the Block permalink
    March 7, 2011 5:25 pm

    You just have to check out some of Leah’s blog posts to see pictures of her beautiful challah. I once asked her what her trick was to why hers looked so much better than mine. It turns out she uses far more stands than I am capable of bringing together in one bread. But I think the real answer is that she’s just far better at it! If you’re nice, you may be able to get her to sing you something, too.

  5. Ellen Whitby permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:56 pm

    I know someone who could eat pastrami every day for a month and not get tired of it. The condiments would get tiresome and need to be changed but a month-long pastrami-fest would be heaven for him. He lurves it.

    Tell us, will any of the food actually be kosher or only kosher style?

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