Photo by Got Kosher? Cafe
Today marks the first night of Chanukkah, which means Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah song” does its yearly representing of the tribe in between hours and hours of non-stop Christmas music. Though silly it may seem, it is a time when I think of my own Jewish roots. I am transported back to the Chanukkahs of yesteryear, singing Hebrew grade-school songs about sufganiyot (jelly donuts aka fluffy, ooegy gooey jelly filled jems, traditionally eaten during the holiday) and sitting at the dinner table, excited and anxious to wolf down all the starchy goodness of my Jewish grandmother’s dynamite latkes, accompanied by a large heaping spoonful of applesauce. I get a food coma just thinking about it.
Though my punk rock, liberal tendencies and modern habits may hold me in contempt as a “Bad Jew” there are some connections that remain strong as ever, and near and dear to my heart: food and music. I conducted some bite-size interviews to pick the brain of musicians, from across a diverse Jewish spectrum, to find out how they keep things Jewlicious. Here’s the scoop on their favorite traditional eats — the good, the bad, and the gefilte fish.
Feature by Emily Saex
— Scott Ian of Anthrax —
Heavy metal icon Scott Ian of Anthrax is one badass motherfucker. His “Speaking Words” tour continues on into 2015 with dates abroad in Germany and Scandinavia, after already having a successful run here in the U.S. and the U.K. In “Speaking Words” he shares his “You won’t believe this” stories from his years of international touring and experiences running into a wide array of characters across the globe. Now he shares with us a little about his relationship with traditional eats.
GG: What’s your best food related memory?
SI: Best Jewish food memory would be eating post-stickball franks with mustard and sauerkraut from the deli across the street from where I grew up (Queens, NYC).
GG: In exactly three words, please describe your thoughts on Gefilte Fish
SI: Seeing my grandfather kill a Pike that was swimming in the bathtub to make the gefilte fish. More than 3 words, I know.
SI: I love them.
SI: Corned beef fan.
GG: Favorite deli in Southern California?
SI: Brent’s in Northridge
— Kosha Dillz —
LA/NJ/Israel rapper Kosha Dillz raps in English, Hebrew and Spanish and the hardworking MC has played with the likes of Matisyahu, RZA of Wu Tang Clan and he’s even appeared on the music-centric kid’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba! His newest album Awkward in a Good Way is out now and you can catch him bringing some multi-culti hip-hop flavor to the Vans Warped Tour in 2015. The hip-hop hustler himself shared a little insight with us on why mom’s cooking is the best and where to grab his favorite bite in Los Angeles.
GG: What’s your favorite traditional Jewish food and why?
KD: I think Schnitzel (breaded chicken cutlet) is really the best. My mother and grandmothers cooked a really distinct style of it that reminds me of home, and when you are far away, that is sometimes all you can think of.
GG: Any special twists on traditional foods that you dig?
KD: There is a place called Schnitzly on Pico that has some cool spicy flavors involved in it, but this place, Got Kosher Cafe, on Pico that pairs schnitzel with pretzel challah bread (so good). But since I’m not messing with carbs I keep it straight up with Israeli salad. My mom’s schnitzel is truth, and honestly the way to my heart. When I get big enough, I will have schnitzel on the rider, always. I love it so much, I rapped about Schnitzly in my song “Hangin’ Out.” Peep the video here.
— Bulletproof Stockings —
Never heard of an all female, Chasidic alt-rock group? Well you have now! Crown Heights, Brooklyn’s Bulletproof Stockings, led by Perl Wolfe (lead vocals, piano) and Dalia G. Shusterman (vocals, drums) draw from a well of both traditional Chasidic melodies, classical training, New Orleans jazz and influences such as Jane’s Addiction and The Pixies. The group are currently working on a new single in the studio, playing live shows in NYC and their unique approach to only playing live for other women will be featured in an upcoming series, “Living Different” which premieres January 6th on Oxygen. The duo dish on top eats, food memories and how to spice (or liquor) things up!
GG: What’s your favorite traditional Jewish food and why?
Perl: Cholent (a slow simmered Jewish stew with meat and vegetables), I think the reason why is obvious. It’s literally every staple ingredient melded together into deliciousness.
Dalia: Pastilla … a multi-layered Moroccan dish (kind of a savory Napolean), traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).
GG: What’s your best memory related to that food?
Perl: For a while I was making Shabbos (Sabbath) meals for my friends and I, nearly every week, and the guest list would grow and grow as one friend would invite another, etc. Plus, the whole Cholent would actually get finished! Somehow, no matter what size you make the Cholent, there are leftovers!
Dalia: Watching my grandmother putting a lot of love into the many details in her tiny kitchen in Paris.
GG: Any special spins on traditional food that you dig (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, special ingredient)?
Perl: I love spicy food, so I add schug and/or hot peppers, like jalapeno, to many dishes. Cholent included.
Dalia: I liquor up just about every dessert I make.
— Moshav —
Moshav are a multi-genre, American/Israeli rock band with a special spark. The duo of Yehuda Solomon (vocals, percussion) and Duvid Swersky (vocals, guitar) have been playing music since their childhood, growing up in Moshav Mevo Modiin, a musical village nestled between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The band’s last single, “World on Fire” featuring Matisyahu drew over one million views and they are set to release the deluxe edition of their ninth album, “New Sun Rising,” featuring their second single, “Chicki Boom” right in time for Chanukkah.
GG: What’s your favorite traditional food and why?
Moshav: Tahina, or is it Tahini? It’s great on salad, bread, rice or falafel. Not sure how Jewish it is but I associate it with growing up in Israel and putting it on almost everything. My Ema (grandma) used to make a killer Tahina pudding! Sounds kind of gross but it’s amazing!
GG: Do you have a favorite song about food (any kind)?
Moshav: “If you’ll be my Dixie chicken, I’ll be your Tennesse lamb.” – Little Feat
GG: Most memorable Chanukkah (meal, included)?
Moshav: At age 15, I played a small show with R. Shlomo Carlebach (famous Rabbi/composer/singer) at a yoga center in Haifa. After the show we lit candles and they brought all sorts of amazing home cooked food. One of the more observant musicians turned to R. Carlebach and asked if he thought the food was Kosher. “If it’s not holy brother, I’ll sit next to you in Hell!” responded R. Carlebach.