Meal Makeover Moms / Flickr
Noodle kugel Meal Makeover Moms / Flickr
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Israeli TV Presents: Kugel Porn!

What’s the secret to a perfect kugel? And why do some Jews eat four different kinds of kugel on Purim? A short film about long-standing culinary traditions.

by
Liel Leibovitz
January 23, 2018
Meal Makeover Moms / Flickr
Noodle kugel Meal Makeover Moms / Flickr

Earlier this month, Israeli TV ran a brief piece about kugel. You can watch it below. You don’t have to know any Hebrew to appreciate it, because the video is, bluntly speaking, kugel porn: Visiting celebrated Kugelmaster Motti Cohen (the proper Yiddish term is Kugel Macher, if you’re in to that sort of thing), the host, Melech Zilbershlag, a YouTube sensation in his own right, asks all the tough questions.

How, for example, do you make a Jerusalem Kugel taste so perfect? The secret, Cohen claims, is in caramelizing sugar, dropping in the noodles at just the right point, and then adding more sugar before cutting the sweetness with pepper and salt. Cohen also shares some wisdom that may surprise even the most ardent Kugel fan. On Purim, he divulges in one revealing moment, some religious Jews make a habit of sampling four different kinds of kugel: Apple, flour, noodle, and potato, the first letters of which, in Yiddish, spell out the name “Amalek.”

As the video draws to an end, Zilbershlag, exhausted from stirring huge vats of noodles and cutting massive Kugels before delivering them to local shuls wonders out loud why Jewish foods like Kugel and cholent all seem to require such long and torturous preparation. “And the People of Israel didn’t have their share of suffering?” Cohen quippred. “This is Jewish food, and it’s just like the nation.” You can watch this brief and appetizing masterwork here:

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.

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