This was the disturbing headline on Yahoo News this morning. For those of you who have been living in a cardboard box in a basement in Wyoming for the past 30 years, a knish is a doughy pillow, stuffed with some delectable mixture of veggies or meat. Other cultures have their versions of the knish.
The knish has an illustrious history among extremely non-illustrious people of Eastern Europe. Knish is a Yiddish word that was derived from the Ukrainian 'Knysh' which means 'a type of bun.' It arrived, around 1900, along with battered suitcases and prayer shawls, with Eastern European Jews immigrating to North America. Over time, the knish became a beloved food by non-Jews as well.
LBL wasn't able to find a reference to a monarch declaring "My kingdom for a knish," or a military history that contained the phrase "the face that launched a thousand knishes." Then husband has written a very impressive tome about The War of 1812, titled "Ships of Oak Guns of Iron." She forgot to check with him if he found any references to knishes being an integral part of the war.
But, in the absence of official historical fare, she has her own history to show how significant the knish is. Decades ago, when LBL and friends were growing up, they used to call a woman's pubic area a knish. LBL hasn't thought about this until this very moment. She hopes to not do so again, for another 55 years.
Even more significant in her personal history of the knish, LBL's mother used the knish as a way to get LBL's sixth grade teacher to stop picking on her. After weeks of LBL developing intense stomach aches each morning before leaving for school, and after having the doctor pronounce that there was nothing physically wrong with her, her mother stepped in. Back in the late '50s, parents didn't go storming into schools to confront teachers and principals about gross inequities being perpetrated against their beloved, perfect offspring. Teachers were gods, especially for LBL's uneducated parents, and basically, what they said and did was the law.
But LBL's mother, a legendary cook and baker, used the only weapon she had at her disposal: the knish. "Tell your teacher to stop by on Friday afternoon, and I'll give her a box or knishes." From that day on, the daily harassment stopped. The knish ruled.
Now back to the crisis at hand: A fire Sept. 24 at the Gabila's plant in Copiague, Long Island, damaged the machinery that makes the company's biggest seller -- "The Original Coney Island Square Knish," which also comes filled with kasha or spinach." (Editor's note: This writer grew up with round knishes, stuffed with potatoes or liver).
Because Gabiela's is the largest distributor of knishes in the country, knish lovers from Maine to Florida and points west are suffering the loss. Big time. And, with Chanukah rapidly approaching (the first night is the evening before Thanksgiving), the situation has become critical. Heads of State the world over have offered substitutes. Airlifts of emergency deliveries of corn fungus, fermented trout, ox penis, Mongolian boodog, and marmite have been made available. Frantic Jews have thus far stoically turned down all offers.
Gabila's promises to end the knish krunch by the start of the holiday, but there are those who remain skeptical. Abount the only thing thing you can say about any of this (including this blog post) is "Oy."