Has Assimilation Ruined the Knish?

David Katz, a writer given to elegiac moods, just published a column on knishes in the Jewish Quarterly. He decries the decay of the knish, which under the pressure of assimilation went from a delicate mashed-potato pastry to a tough square of deep-fried dough. "There's a word for these street knishes, which are still sold today, and that word is vile," Katz pronounces. The column concludes with a paragraph of praise for Yonah Schimmel's old-time knishery, noted by us recently in our pre-obituary for Gertel's last week.

Truth be told, the knishes at Yonah Schimmel's are as bland as cotton and heavy as depleted uranium. Katz also cites Mrs. Stahl's, in Brighton Beach, which serves even worse. (Mrs. Stahl hasn't been seen in Brighton Beach since Moses was in short pants.) But that isn't to say that the knish is dead, or even decaying: There are still great ones being made all over New York. Glatt Zone, a kosher appetizing store in Midwood, produces some of the best kasha knishes we've ever tasted; they have an unexpected sweetness. The New York Magazine offices also contain a tiny lunch operation, the Inhouse Nosh Cafe, which sells extraordinary meat and potato knishes, with a winningly lush and beefy taste. And Knish Nosh, of Queens, recently expanded, and sells more of their flaky and delicate knishes than ever.

We were sorry to see the Second Avenue Deli go, and we'll admit that the age of the egg cream is over. But with all due respect to David Katz, the knish was around before Yonah Schimmel's and will survive it too.

Inhouse Nosh Cafe, 444 Madison Ave., nr. 49th St..; 212-355-1439.

Glatt Zone, 1316 Ave. J, nr. 13th St., Midwood, Brooklyn; 718-677-4288.

Knish Nosh, 10030 Queens Blvd., nr. 67th Ave., Flushing; 718-897-5554 .

Mrs. Stahl's Knishes, 1001 Brighton Beach Ave., nr. Coney Island Ave., Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-648-0210.

The View From New York [Jewish Quarterly]