L.A.'s Idea of Jewish Food vs. What Jews Really Eat

L.A.'s Idea of Jewish Food vs. What Jews Really Eat

Our latest attempt in Understanding Cuisine through Racial Profiling finds us examining the dietary habits of Jews. But what kind of Jews? One respondent wrote, "You meant to ask what American Jews eat, right? Otherwise you will get sucked forever into separating Moroccan Jews from Polish Jews." There's the rub. As our mom likes to say: "Wherever you get one Jew, you get two opinions."

It's true. Our super-scientific survey, conducted via email and Facebook and casually asking people we know, came out vastly and unfairly weighted toward Ashkenazi (i.e. European) rather than Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) or Sephardic (Spanish) Jews. We'll work on that for the next survey. In the meantime, here are words of wisdom from Evan Kleiman: "Copious amounts of food on table. My people definitely have issues with scarcity, and I say that as one who has been in the position of feeding my brethren many, many times. We like grazing and variety. As for kinds of food? We love ethnic eats, particularly ones with strong flavors i.e. all Asian food, particularly spicy. I think it's because it is in contrast to the blander, fat-laden diet that is our comfort zone. A palate raised on raw onions and garlic pickles loves the spice and sour of Thai, Indian, etc."

Moral of the Story: Everyone agrees, Jews eat a lot of cured, salted deli meats and a lot of matzoh: matzoh crackers, matzoh brie, matzoh ball soup. We're impressed with the goyim for knowing about gefilte fish, even if they can't spell it. We're surprised that not a single Jew listed Manischewitz. Maybe it's because we ritualistically consumed it at synagogue but wisely avoid as adults. Overall, Angelenos' perceptions of "Jewish food" (or at least a particularly narrow, Ashkenazi slice of it) is on the money. While Jews went a little deeper into the deli menu for kishka, kugel and kasha varnishka, the goyim know our dirty little secret: We love bacon.

We're also impressed with certain goys and their puckish sense of humor:

"Most of the Jews I know eat bacon sandwiches and pulled pork -- but that may mean they're not 'real' Jews ." (On the contrary, many Jews are very traif.)

"Jews eat specially-prepared 'Jood,' which is compressed pellet mixture made mostly from wood pulp and whey protein. You can buy bags of Jood at most feed supply stores. It tastes fantastic. Did I get it right? Do I win?"

Yes, you win.

Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Follow the author at @ElinaShatkin or contact her at

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