Thursday, February 16, 2012


Above is that Venn diagram of what the Jewish Angelinos eat, compared with what non-Jewish Angelinos think they eat.  Can it really be that they don’t eat pickles?  Anyway, you can find the complete article here:

John Venn was the eponymous inventor of the Venn diagram, used to demonstrate set theory.  He was a student and later a don at my old college – Caius. He was there about 120 years before I was, and there is now a stained glass window in his honor, though that didn’t arrived till a good decade after I’d left.  It’s in the dining hall, scene of some extremely grim dining experiences and one or two good ones, as mentioned elsewhere in this blog.

Anyway, pursuing my goyish interest in the food of the chosen, I happened to eat breakfast a couple days ago at Nate n’ Al’s Deli in Beverly Hills.   I think it isn’t a kosher deli, but it’s certainly Jewish.  As a matter of fact this was the place where the Loved One and I had breakfast the morning we got married.  I even remember what I ate that day: sturgeon, the only time I’ve ever had it.  I’m probably due to have some more.

Pity I didn’t think of it at the time.  On this occasion I saw there were kippers on the menu and ordered them instead.  My dad was especially fond of kippers: he had them on Fridays as a nod to my mother’s Catholic leanings.  Back then when I was a kid I couldn’t cope with kippers – too many bones.  Now I’m man enough to tackle them.  At home my dad always had his kippers poached, but these were fried and came with fried onions, and I suspect my dad wouldn’t have gone for that, but I thought these were pretty damn good.

I ordered them with poached eggs (actually the other way round – I ordered eggs and the kippers were the “side”), which fitted perfectly on the English muffins, and I had cottage cheese as well, which may have been a bit goyish, but it worked for me. 

You know, once upon a time, back in England, eating my smoky bacon crisps with my dad, I wouldn’t even have known what goyish meant.  And now Jack in The Box has introduced the bacon milkshake.  Leviticus must be rolling in his tomb.

This got me thinking about something Penn Jillette wrote when he used to have a column in Maxim magazine about candy.  He was reviewing Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar, and he knew he should have really liked it but he didn’t, and he wrote, “here’s why: It doesn’t double the deliciousness to put bacon and chocolate together. It’s actually less good than having them separately. Bacon is so good by itself that to put it in any other food is an admission of failure. You’re basically saying, ‘I can’t make this other food taste good, so I’ll throw in bacon.’”

I think he makes a very good point.  When I was first starting to cook, whatever I made it had garlic, lemon and cream in it, and often bacon too – didn’t matter whether it was chicken, risotto, pasta sauce, it was all the same and I used to think it all tasted pretty decent – but I knew it wasn’t really cooking.  

Actually, lemon, cream and garlic probably doesn’t go so well with kippers, but I can’t help thinking some bacon would have been OK.  I could even have ordered some at Nate n Al’s.  They really just aren’t trying with this kosher business, for which I’m extremely grateful.

1 comment:

  1. The bacon, the pig ears, and the ostentatious use of brain matter, should really be curtailed. Fergus Henderson published that book 13 years ago now. We get the fact swine and steers can be eaten snout to tail. Maybe we just don't want to.

    Which brings me to Umamicatessen (speaking of non-kosher) delis. They have a meat locker full of cured pork, across the hall from a "deli style"....