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19th century foodways

Start Date : 12.12.2017
Historic Cooking Workshop: Sugar Plums and Wassail

December 12, 6:30 pm

Hands on candy making session with a toast to the holidays

Did you know that there are no plums in sugar plums?  This ancient sweet treat was a favorite of 19th-century New Yorkers.  Learn about their ancient and recent past in this hands-on session, package your treats up for gift giving and toast with some wassail to get the holiday spirit going!

$25 Adults:, $20 Members and Students with ID

At Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

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120th Egg Nog Party, December 14
We thought it was just cream, eggs, sugar, and rum, but, hey, what do we know. Chemists, apparently, know the secret to the lip-smacking-est eggnog, and they’re letting us nonscientists have a taste at their annual holiday party. The Chemists’ Club has been hosting this ode to the ’nog for more than a century now, so its secret recipe must be one for the record books (or at least a cookbook). New York Academy of Science, 250 Greenwich Street (between Vesey and Barclay Streets), Tribeca

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Thu 10 2017 , by

Bygone Buttered Rolls?

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the common coffee-accompanying buttered roll has become bygone from NYC and the surrounding areas of NJ and Connecticut in any measurable way. However, in many cases they aren’t what they used to be, and finding them made properly (with a fresh, handmade Kaiser roll and real salted butter) is becoming a lot more iffy. While buttered rolls can still be bought as such in many small shops, diners, and sidewalk coffee carts throughout the city, the general consensus is that since bygone days (mid-20th century) in the majority of cases the quality of the rolls has gone down due to modern developments such as the disappearance of smaller, regional/local bakeries, leading to the mass production and the lack of freshness and quality of the hard rolls, and lack of knowledge of how they are “supposed” to be has led to rolls without the requisite crispy crust or poppy seeds on top. Then there is the butter, or lack thereof: the more frequent use of margarine of varying taste and mouthfeel by those who sell them, topped off by vendors wrapping them in plastic wrap in deference to modern sanitary sensibilities but giving the rolls the savor of the plastic. The comments section from this NY Times article about the phenomena of buttered Kaiser rolls or “butter rolls” as they are called in popular parlance is revealing: besides having arrived in NYC via “The Vienna Model Bakery” in 1870, which also brought commercial yeasted bread to the city, they derived from German/Austrian Jewish cuisine: one commentator reveals that her father called them “jew rolls” when at home, but not to appear anti-Semitic, ordered “hard rolls” from the local bakery. (In many cases, a local bakery was involved in the production of good old fashioned rolls with butter as they ought to have been-it is the scarcity of general purpose local bakeries that has been partly responsible for the taste and quality of buttered rolls becoming more frequently bygone.) How are the bastardized versions that have become widely available in our time still selling? For the same reason the original and better-tasting ones did: they might be the only thing some people can afford to eat all day. They are cheap and filling, though of dubious nutritional value. —

Ode to the Buttered Roll, That New York Lifeline

It can be hard to explain the appeal of a buttered roll.

Unlike the breakfast sandwich or the cruller, the humble buttered roll makes no claims to lusciousness. It’s not really greater than the sum of its parts: a round roll, sliced and slathered with butter. There is no alchemy involved.

And yet, like many New Yorkers, I’ve breakfasted all my life on buttered rolls, wrapped in plastic, foil or wax paper and sold for about a dollar at any corner deli, bodega or coffee cart.

Do I love them? No. That is not really the point. I love that they exist, an unsung, charmingly ordinary hero of the city’s mornings.…

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from City Reliquary:

Heroes of the Knish: Making a Living and Making a Life

Photo Credit: Barbara Pfeffer

Photo Credit: Barbara Pfeffer

The City Reliquary presents:
Heroes of the Knish: Making a Living and Making a Life
Sunday, Feb. 12 – May 7
Opening reception: Sunday, February 12 @ 2 PM
(Curator’s talk and Knish Trivia @ 3PM)
$10/$8 Reliquary members

Heroes of the Knish: Making a Living and Making a Life tells the story of courageous women and men who churned out potato pies and paved lives for themselves and their families. The exhibit is curated by Laura Silver, award-winning author of Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food (Brandeis, 2014).

At the opening reception on Sunday, February 12, Silver, known as the world’s leading expert on the knish, will deliver an illustrated talk on the sultry side of the potato pie. Aphrodisiac, inspiration for off-color jokes and fount of feminism, the knish has been a hot commodity in New York City for over a decade.

Attendees can cut their teeth on knish trivia while noshing on round and square versions of this classic street food from Knishery NYC and Gabila’s Knishes! Tickets on sale now! Admission includes one knish and pickles. Beverages available by suggested donation.

From the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the Brooklyn seaside, the knish has become a standby on sidewalk carts and at ethnic eateries in the five boroughs and beyond. Since its arrival on these shores with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, the knish — whose origins can be traced to rural Poland of the 1600s — has wedged itself into the hearts, guts and psyches of New Yorkers of all stripes.

The exhibit introduces legendary and lesser-known knish kings and queens who have made their mark on New York City over the last century. It showcases a never-before-assembled collection of artifacts, archival materials, and stories from knish purveyors  past and present. Items on display include a stock certificate from Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes of Brighton Beach, the knish correspondence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; a song about Ruby the Knishman, who sold potato pies to schoolkids in Canarsie; and chronicles of the Knish Crisis of 2013, when, following a factory fire, Gabila’s was forced to stop production of square, Coney Island-style knishes for nearly six months.

About the Curator:
Laura Silver is a third-generation New Yorker and the award-winning author of Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food (Brandeis, 2014). Her research on the humble hunk of dough spanned seven years, three continents and all five boroughs of her hometown. Silver’s work on the knish has been featured on NPR, WNYC,  in major outlets in Canada, Germany and Poland, and on Al-Jazeera America. The New York Times called her book “whimsical, mouthwatering and edifying.”


About The City Reliquary Museum:
The City Reliquary Museum & Civic Organization preserves the everyday artifacts that connect visitors to the past and present of New York City. It was originally established as an apartment window display in 2002 at the corner of Grand and Havemeyer Streets and relocated to 370 Metropolitan Avenue in 2006.

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