Idol Chatter

Just as Jewish culture isn’t all about black hats and beards, and Jewish humor isn’t all about guilt and your mother, stereotypical Jewish foods such as bagels, matzah balls, and gefilte fish may soon have to share the plate with lesser-known Jewish delicacies hailing from the traditions of Bukharian Jews from Central Asia.

Thanks to a recent New York Times article touting the flavor of the Bukharians living in and around Queens, N.Y., chebureks and kebabs–savory deep fried pies and hunks of crisp lamb fat–get their chance to shine as Jewish food with a culinary conscience.

I came to know the Bukharian culture through my first boyfriend, the child of Russian-speaking Jewish parents living in the Queens neighborhood Forest Hills. His character was spicy and pungent, just like the dishes his mom prepared when I met her for the first time. I was thrilled to have landed a Heeb who didn’t seem, well, the stereotypical bagels-and-lox Jew. But it was always a challenge to explain to friends–Jewish and non-Jewish alike–that even though he had dark skin and listened to music with Arabic-inflections, he was in fact a member of The Tribe. I would tell them he was Bukharian. What? BUK-HAR-IAN.

They didn’t get it at the time, but if the Times article is anything of an indication that the world is ready to broaden its image of Jewish culture, let’s pick up our forks and do so one bite at a time.

Cumin-scented pilaf of rice anyone? Yes, please.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus