There are essays on Hydrox cookies, Bazooka gum, a used tea bag, seltzer... Why was it important to include non-recipe entries on foods like these?
When it comes to Jewish tradition, what's hard to wrap our minds around is that, unlike other cuisines, it's not ethnographically delineated. Peruvian Jews didn't have the same ingredients as Hungarian Jews as Yemeni Jews. But what they had in common was imperative and symbolism, and they had to use local ingredients to meet symbolic, religious targets. I think of Jewish cuisine as intrinsically domestic—cooked and eaten in the home and in the community, which makes it more colloquial than other cuisines. In other words, schmaltz is great not just because of its flavor but also because of its history, the inventiveness of it, and the knowledge of how it was, and still is, often made: in homes. When I talk and think about these dishes, I can almost feel the hands making them.