Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food

Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food

by Laura Silver


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Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver

Winner of the New York Book Festival
Runner-up for the Religion News Writers Association

When Laura Silver’s favorite knish shop went out of business, the native New Yorker sank into mourning, but then she sprang into action. She embarked on a round-the-world quest for the origins and modern-day manifestations of the knish.

The iconic potato pie leads the author from Mrs. Stahl’s bakery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to an Italian pasta maker in New Jersey—and on to a hunt across three continents for the pastry that shaped her identity. Starting in New York, she tracks down heirs to several knish dynasties and discovers that her own family has roots in a Polish town named Knyszyn.

With good humor and a hunger for history, Silver mines knish lore for stories of entrepreneurship, survival, and major deliciousness. Along the way, she meets Minnesota seniors who make knishes for weekly fundraisers, foodies determined to revive the legacy of Mrs. Stahl, and even the legendary knish maker’s granddaughters, who share their joie de vivre—and their family recipe.

Knish connections to Eleanor Roosevelt and rap music? Die-hard investigator Silver unearths those and other intriguing anecdotes involving the starchy snack once so common along Manhattan’s long-lost Knish Alley. In a series of funny, moving, and touching episodes, Silver takes us on a knish-eye tour of worlds past and present, thus laying the foundation for a global knish renaissance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611683127
Publisher: Brandeis University Press
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Series: HBI Series on Jewish Women Series
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

LAURA SILVER is an award-winning journalist whose writing on food and culture has appeared in the New York Times and the Forward and on NPR. Laura has been a writer in residence at the Millay Colony, the Banff Centre, and the New York Public Library. She is considered the world’s leading expert on the knish.

Table of Contents

Au Revoir, Mrs. Stahl’s: Brighton Beach to the Lower East Side
In Search of the First Knish: From the Holy Land to the Old Country
Mrs. Goldberg to Gangsta Rap: The Knish in Culture
A Brief History of Competitive Knish Eating
The Fine Art of Knish Making
Where to Get a Good Knish
Mrs. Stahl’s Potato Knishes
Selected Bibliography
Illustration Credits

What People are Saying About This

Arthur Schwartz

“Laura Silver’s at-times poetic meditation on knishes is not only a cultural history of this filled lump of dough, as meticulously researched as any doctoral thesis, but also a Proustian personal memoir that hints of James Joyce, no less, in the way Silver intones and uses the rhythms of Aramaic Jewish liturgy, Yiddishkeit, and Yiddish humor to tell her story. The knish has never been put to better use. I loved it.”

Joan Nathan

“Truly riveting, Laura Silver’s Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food weaves personal taste memories with the intricate past of knishes, making for a compelling, well-researched biography of these iconic Jewish pastries.”

David Sax

“A lovingly researched book that elevates the knish, arguably the humblest of Jewish foods, into a weighty symbol of history, identity, and family. Knishes haven’t met anything this good for them since the invention of mustard.”

Andrew F. Smith

“For 70 years, Mrs. Stahl’s bakery in Brighton Beach served adelicious array of knishes toJewish and gentile devotees. The bakery’s closing in 2005 filled one enthusiast—Laura Silver—with Proustian remembrances of knishes past. These nostalgic memories launched her on a global quest to pay homage to the knish. She has collected stories about her voyage in her deliciously appetizing book. The reader is left with only one question: Where’s the nearest knish shop?”

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Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
funkymunky More than 1 year ago
This book tells the history of the knish or something..didn't have the patience to read it. No recipes in it so I returned it. Maybe it isn't bad if you want to read about knishes, but seriously, that's weird.