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The Jewish Food Festival Lawn Sign

March 31, 2016

Nothing moves quickly on the FLB. Everything happens slowly. And that’s largely because I like to take the long view on things. Take the Tour de Cider Donuts. It’s been a huge project, and is going into its seventh year. Which is totally fine by me.

Thanks to those who weighed in yesterday on the egg custard question. I’m going to wait and see if more thoughts come through. But it may still be some time before we pull the trigger on that plan. After all, I am still on a stupid diet, and we’re going to have the Tour de Soft Serve some time next month.

I’ll probably let you know at the very last minute. Actually, that’s a terrible idea. Part of me really wants to do it on April 9. But we may need to push it off until April 30. I promise to keep you posted. But you may want to tentatively mark those two dates on your calendar.

So speaking of last minute news, I’m here to tell you about something special going on this Sunday.

You know I’m Jewish, right? Well, every week I drive all the way out to Schenectady to do my Jewish stuff. Yes, there are congregations closer. But I found out that the one in Schenectady had the best food, so that’s the one we joined.

Okay, okay. The rabbi and the religious school are great. And I do like the people. But you can say that about lots of places. The food put Congregation Gates of Heaven over the top. And you know the food has to be good, because the name of the place makes it sound like some kind of cult.

My favorite event is probably the chanukah latke party. But you already missed that this year.

However, Sunday is the Jewish Food Festival, and that has long been my second favorite event at Gates. There were a couple of years where I actually worked the festival and had a FLB table. Once we had a butter tasting that went with Leah the Nosher’s homemade challah. That was amazing. Another year Leah made borscht and I used that as an opportunity to showcase the housemade sour cream from All Good Bakers.

But lately, I’ve just been going as a civilian. And that’s a nice way to do it, because I don’t have to stand behind a table for three hours handing out samples to an endless stream of people.

It’s a pretty popular event. And there’s a crush of humanity at the beginning.

My favorite bites have always been the corned beef or pastrami sandwiches that Ben & Bill’s Deli brings. Because they know just how to hold those joints of meat at the perfect temperature and humidity to keep them tender, moist, and flavorful. Except this year it’s going to kill me, because I think I may have to pass on some of my favorite fatty Jewish delights.

I just don’t know if I’m that strong.

So the Jewish Food Festival is open to anyone. You don’t have to be Jewish. You don’t have to be a member. And nobody is going to try and convert you or give you the hard-sell to join the congregation, although I’m sure membership packets will be available. It’s $15 for adults. $5 for kids 13-17. Children 12 and under are free. Which is great for me, because my kids historically haven’t been thrilled with the food of our people.

What this year has in store, I have no idea. I’ve heard rumors that this will be the last year of the Jewish Food Festival under its current organizational structure, and that next year it’s going to go through some major changes. I suspect what may happen is that instead of everything being all-inclusive, the future may look more like a food truck festival where individual vendors will be selling their wares.

We’ll see what next year holds soon enough. The last time I checked with this year’s event organizers there was some concern that there were fewer food tables lined up for this year than in the past. I don’t know.

It’s very Jewish to think you don’t have enough food to feed your guests. I can’t imagine anyone who tries all the offerings available would leave hungry. The food of my people isn’t known for being particularly light.

I do know that I was asked to put up a lawn sign to try and promote the Jewish Food Festival. But if I tried to do that in my neighborhood, I’d get some kind of angry note from the neighborhood association. Or maybe they’d just skip right to putting a lien on my house. I don’t plan to find out.

So, consider this post my lawn sign.

Almost every time I talk to people about the Jewish Food Festival, they tell me they’ve never heard of it, but are super stoked to check it out. That’s kind of amazing, because hundreds of people go to this thing, and it’s been going on for years. Perhaps it’s better known in Schenectady.

Well, anyway, now you know. I’ll be there eating god knows what. Maybe I’ll just have a lot of matzoh ball soup. Or perhaps I can find a stash of pickled herring. I suppose I can see what it’s like to ask for slices of lean pastrami. But that just feels like a crime.

Hope to see you there.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 4, 2016 3:55 pm

    Thanks SO MUCH for posting about this festival. I’m one of those people who never heard of it before, so I got myself over there and it was delightful! I went for all my old favorites first and then tried a few things I’ve never been able to try and it was nice. The crowds, although fairly dense, were very polite and friendly. Ben & Bill’s Deli pastrami was the first thing I tasted and so that set the tone. After that it was all about pacing and staying relaxed about just getting a bite of a few things, because everything was just so good.

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