B&H Restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village was once part of a neighborhood that vibrated with Jewishness. Yiddish theaters peppered the area. Ratner’s was down the street, and the 2nd Avenue Deli was just across the way. Opened in 1942, the dairy-only B&H has outlasted most of these joints—sure, the 2nd Avenue Deli remains but in a new location and not even on 2nd Avenue—with its blintz and pierogi offerings gobbled up by hungry customers in a classic, narrow diner space brightened by lime green walls.
Little has changed on B&H’s menu. So says Eve Jochnowitz, a lifelong Greenwich Village resident, Yiddish scholar, and Jewish culinary ethnographer, who has just finished translating and editing a 1930 Yiddish cookbook by Vilna restaurateur Fania Lewando. In anticipation of Shavuot, for which many of us indulge in cheesecake and other dairy delights, Jochnowitz joined Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry for a visit to B&H to talk about the history of dairy restaurants, their forgotten cousin the “appetizing store,” and the unexpected pleasure of a soup made with pickles. Jochnowitz also offers her favorite vegan alternative to the cheesecake. [Running time: 15:00.]