Rhapsody in Schmaltz (Hardcover)

Yiddish Food and Why We Can't Stop Eating It

By Michael Wex

St. Martin's Press, 9781250071514, 320pp.

Publication Date: April 12, 2016



Bagels, deli sandwiches and gefilte fish are only a few of the Jewish foods to have crossed into American culture and onto American plates. Rhapsody in Schmaltz traces the history and social impact of the cuisine that Yiddish-speaking Jews from Central and Eastern Europe brought to the U.S. and that their American descendants developed and refined. The book looks at how and where these dishes came to be, how they varied from region to region, the role they played in Jewish culture in Europe, and the role that they play in Jewish and more general American culture and foodways today.

Rhapsody in Schmaltz traces the pathways of Jewish food from the Bible and Talmud, to Eastern Europe, to its popular landing pads in North America today. With an eye for detail and a healthy dose of humor, Michael Wex also examines how these impact modern culture, from temple to television. He looks at Diane Keaton's pastrami sandwich in Annie Hall, Andy Kaufman's stint as Latke on Taxi and Larry David's Passover seder on Curb Your Enthusiasm, shedding light on how Jewish food permeates our modern imaginations.

Rhapsody in Schmaltz is a journey into the sociology, humor, history, and traditions of food and Judaism.

About the Author

MICHAEL WEX was born in Lethbridge, Alberta and later moved to Toronto. Wex is the also the author of nonfiction books Born to Kvetch, Just Say Nu, and How to Be a Mensch (and Not a Shmuck), and fiction books The Adventures of Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist; The Frumkiss Family Business; and Shlepping the Exile. He is also well known as a speaker on matters relating to Yiddish language and culture and more general aspects of Judaism. He lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter.