A Bite of History on Jewish Food

Jewish food tells a story of an uprooted, migrating people and their vanished worlds.

Mention the word Feigels, and someone has a story to share. Mostly it reminds them of time they spent with loved ones.

Jewish food jolts the senses. As we taste and smell and smell and eat, and talk, while we’re eating or while some family member is talking and eating at the same time; we create memories.

Food lives in people’s minds because of what it evokes and represents.

In the late seventeenth century, Jews in Poland moved to Galicia, Lithuania and the Ukraine. There, the Polish nobility asked them to manage their agricultural lands and to settle in the shtetl (newly built towns).  The Jews hired flour mills, dairy processing plants and taverns to brew vodka and schnapps.

As time moved on, large amounts of Jews moved out of Poland into neighbouring countries and food from the shtetl (that originated in Germany) such as hallah bread, gefilte fish, chopped liver, cholent and lockshen pudding were transported all over Eastern Europe.

Cooking traditions between Poland and Russia weren’t that different. They shared similar ingredients and notably a taste for carp, salted herrings, sausages and sauerkraut. They all made heavy ryes, cucumber pickles, chicken soup, pancakes and dumplings.

Polish Jews developed a taste for sweetish foods. Their heritage included cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and bagels; boiled then baked.

Lithuanian Jews preferred sour foods such as iced beetroot soup, fermented pickled cabbage, perogen and blintzes.

Feigel filled the little shop with an eclectic combination of traditional foods from Lithuania and Poland; a beautiful combination of hers and Mully, her husband’s heritage.

Now everyone who has ever worked at Feigels most likely has a pickled herring story.

 

 

Rockey Street – The Early Days

Yeoville became a suburb in 1890. It was advertised as a ‘sanitarium for the rich’ with purer air as it was up on a ridge overlooking the dirty, smoke-filled mining town that had sprung up out of the Transvaal bushveld.

The rich, however, did not buy into the suburb. Instead it became a multiclass area, which attracted many of the waves of migrants from abroad that came to South Africa seeking a new life.

By the 1970s, it had a predominantly Jewish character, with a number of synagogues, Jewish delicatessens and bakeries.

Feigels became a deli with a personality. The neighbours were ecstatic. Feigel continued some of the lines from Judy’s deli; she made sandwiches for the community.

Bread was delivered by Patel in his white coat from Fanny Farmers. He would drop off on consignment and collect left overs the next day.

Sammy Samson, the boxer who ran the gym next door, didn’t like Feigels keeping their cash in a small wooden box, or in their apron pockets; so he bought them a small petty cash tin which we still have today.

You may be young enough to remember that there was no parking allowed on the northern side of Rockey Street after 4:30pm; which made driving past and popping into Feigels very difficult. The resident traffic cop with his black helmet would conceal his bike, pop out and ticket unsuspecting motorists. Often disgruntled Feigels customers would walk into the shop complaining about a fine for illegal parking. But this didn’t stop them from shopping.

In those days Saturday mornings were busiest at Feigels. Extra staff, like Solly, would come into help. As business grew, they got another fridge and milk and meat could now be kept separate. The petty cash tin was replaced with a cash register.

Feigel cooked at home on her little gas stove and introduced Eastern European delicacies like teiglach, chopped herring, gefilte fish, tsavey (sour leaf soup),  and helzel. Patsy, Jos and Feigel carried pots of food down to the shop…

The story continues next week.

 

Built on a Foundation of Family and Love

My Zaida (grandfather) used to say that he loved eating food that was prepared with love.

Feigel (his wife) could cook and all the food Feigel prepared was made with love. She had a big heart and everything she did, she did with love. She used to say; ‘Love and family are everything.’

When Jossy and Patsy received their mother’s letter regarding the deli, they had been trying to get Israeli citizenship; it was proving very difficult. During this time Jos had fallen hitting his head on a rusty screw; and so the brother and sister decided to head back to SA and help Feigel set up shop.

Early 1968 Feigel went with Jos and Patsy to see Julian Kleft, the landlord. They entered into a lease for 1C Rockey Street to open up the delicatessen. Needing money they arranged a loan from the Chev of R1500.

On a good ‘ol fashioned handshake’ they did a deal with Koval brothers, near the market in town, who gave them their very first fridge; with extended terms to pay (for which they were forever grateful).

Fritz Oppenheimer, the owner of Rand Kosher Meat Market, agreed to supply Feigel with meats and polony on consignment.

They went to Freddy Hirsch’s near Fordsburg and purchased their very first scale, a meat slicer and a polony rack for the wall.

With this equipment plus their family kitchen table and a small gas stove, they were nearly ready for business.

Jos and Solly spent a few nights ripping up the old floor tiles and laid new flooring. Then after a new coat of paint they got the go ahead from the health inspector. Everything was looking good.

Mel Miller (the comedian), who in those days used to rep for Advanced Printers, helped with the original blue Feigels logo and some labels.

Feigel’s brother Louis helped with some extra shop fittings and Uncle Louis’ wife Aunty Sonia made Gooseberry Flan Cakes for the window.

In April 1968 Feigels took delivery of the fridge and filled it with salmon, snoek and really good cream cheese. They mounted the polony rack and bought wax wrap from the OK Bizaare.

They positioned the panelight table in the shop and got a small box for taking money.

During Chol Hamoed, on the 18th of April 1968, Feigels opened their doors for business.

Part 3 to follow…

Who was Feigel and how did it all begin.

In 1922, a young woman in her early 20’s boarded a ship with her family and made the journey from Lithuania to South Africa. Her name was Feigel; she was my Bobba.

Feigel met her husband, Mully (my Zaida) in South Africa and they had 4 children; Mike, Jos, Patsy (my mom) and Solly.

In 1966, to supplement her income, Feigel got a  job at Judy’s Deli in Rocky Street.

Judy’s was run by Ike Smith who, if anyone remembers shopping there, used to throw snoek and rye bread at customers who  would touch and feel his Challas and rolls.

You may remember other shops like Scotch Corner,  Indian Drapers, The Lazers from Tower Pharmacy, Upin Locksmith and Jutin’s Pet Shop.

Some time in 1967 Ike Smith closed down the iconic Judy’s Delicatessen.

Rocky Street now had a vacant shop.

Feigel was at a loose end; she felt this was too good an opportunity to let go. Having her own shop was something Feigel had dreamed about.

In 1967 Patsy and Jossy, who were volunteering in Israel during the 6 day war, received a letter from their mom saying that Judy’s had closed and she wanted to open the deli.

Part 2 to follow…

Feigels – A Collection of Memories and Conversations

Ever since I was big enough to be introduced to people; people would say, ” this is Patsy’s daughter from Feigels”.

So let me introduce myself.

I am Tamar, Patsy’s daughter from Feigels.

I am still amazed, so many decades down the line, that everyone I meet has a Feigel’s story; a memory that often goes all the way back to the ‘Good Ol Days’ in Yeoville, about something they liked to eat and what it reminded them of.

I would like to capture some of your stories; if you are willing to share.

We are who we are because of our community and I’d like to tell our story with as many of you as willingly possible.

Next year we celebrate our 50th. So much has changed in our beloved country and in the world.

When we tell stories, we keep fond memories alive; we  smile as we recall and share…

So, please, if you have a Feigels’ story or a memory or you know someone that does; please let me know via email or sms. We can meet at the shop and chat over a biscuit and a cuppa or we can talk on the phone or email.

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Warm Regards

Tamar

0833077011 or tamar@feigels.com

Acknowledging our Blessings on Shavuot

For many of us, Shavuot is a nostalgic holiday full of casseroles and cheesecakes.

In addition to celebrating the giving of the Torah, Shavuot is also a harvest festival and, in biblical times, was marked by the ceremony of bikkurim (first fruits), the bringing of the seven species to the Temple.

In the absence of the Temple, bikkurim no longer applies, however we still keep the Mitzvah alive by giving gifts of thankfulness and appreciation for all the good we are given and acknowledging Hashem as our primary benefactor.

The sages say that one who brings gifts to a Torah sage is considered to have brought bikkurim.

‘Baked Cheese Cake with a Honey Nut Topping’

Gluten Free Baked Cheese Cake 

Base

300gr broken pecans

50ml castor sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

20ml mazina

3 tablespoons heaped butter

Filling

500gr cream cheese

250ml fresh cream

4 jumbo eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

zest & juice of 1 orange

150ml castor sugar

30ml mazina

Honey nut topping

60ml honey

30ml castor sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

150ml water

juice of 1 lemon

150 gr cashew or pistachio nuts

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 220C

Place a large dish in the oven it must be able to fit the spring form inside, then  half fill this large dish with water (bain maree) Line a spring form tin with a cut double disk of grease proof paper & then spray with cooking spray. Cut 3 pieces of foil & wrap around the outside of the spring form (stops any water seeping in)

Base

Combine all the base ingredients together & place in an oven proof dish, bake until the butter just begins to sizzle. Remove from the oven & blitz in a food blender. Press the nut mix into the base of the spring form & bake for 8 minutes, remove & allow to cool.

Filling

While the base is cooling combine all the filling ingredients together & beat well with a whisk attachment scraping down the sides half way. Pour into the now cooled base & bake in the water bath for 10 minutes. Turn the temp down to 150C & bake for 50 minutes. Switch off the oven & allow the cake to cool in the oven. When cool remove from the water bath & chill in the fridge.

Topping

When the cake is cool combine all the topping ingredients & simmer until the bubbles look thick & glossy. Pour over the cake & allow to set.

Why Dairy on Shavuot and our Shavuot Menu

It is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot.

Menus range from traditional cheese blintzes and cakes to quiches, casseroles and more.

To see  Feigels Shavuot Menu please click here or…
Continue reading and click the link below.

There are a number of reasons for this custom.
Here are a few:

  • We eat two meals on Shavuot; first a dairy meal, and then, after a short break, we eat the traditional holiday meat meal. This commemorates the two-loaf bread offering that was brought in the Temple at this time.
  • When we received the Torah, keeping Kosher became law. The Torah was received on Shabbat so no cattle could be slaughtered and no utensils could be koshered. Therefore, on that day they ate dairy.
  • The Torah is likened to nourishing milk. The Hebrew word for milk is chalav, and the numerical value of the word chalav is forty. Forty is the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai when receiving the Torah.
  •  So on Shavuot we eat dairy products and then take a break before eating meat.

Download Feigels Shavuot Menu and follow these steps.

1. Click on link Find the Shavuot Menu – open document
2. Print the document
2. Make your selection
3. Complete your personal details
4. Specify collection details; date, time and which store (Lyndhurst or Glenhazel)
5. Pay deposit or full amount (see bank details)
6. Send completed order form and proof of payment to orders@feigels.com
7. Please keep your copy of the order form and bring it with you on collection

If you have any queries please send an email to orders@feigels.com or call 011 882 5305

Prep for the Sedar Started in Egypt

After 400 years as slaves in Egypt, G-d tells Moses and Aaron to get the Israelites ready; they will be leaving the land of their oppression at the hands of Pharoah and heading off to the Promised Land.

Now it’s fascinating to see at this point that the Torah not only gives us a recipe, but the instructions for a whole meal.

On top of all their other preparations for a hasty departure, each family was told to get a lamb that must be slaughtered at twilight on the 10th of Nisan. Some of the blood must be used to make a mark on their doorposts so that G-d will pass over their houses when He carries out the 10th plague; ‘the slaying of the first born’. The rest of the lamb must be roasted over the fire and eaten with ‘unleavened bread and bitter herbs.’

G-d then elaborates that no part of the food shall be eaten raw or cooked with water in any way. The lamb, with head, legs and entrails must be roasted over the fire and the Israelites must eat the whole thing. No left overs can be taken with them for Matzah sandwiches the next day.  Anything remaining must be burned.

The meal must be eaten in haste , they should have their sandals on their feet, staffs in their hands and ready to move.

As 21st centuary Jews we are blessed to be able to enjoy a more lavish sedar. We sit, leaning over beautifully decorated tables laden with food, we tell the story of how our ancestors left Egypt. We take our time and usually eat our way through charoset and matzah, hard boiled eggs and salt water, matzah ball soup, roast leg of lamb with veggies and we sip sweet wine as the sedar is concluded with a sweet dessert.

It’s interesting to note, that although we celebrate our freedom, we are gifted with an opportunity, as we recount the story from our past, that we need to continually work at freeing ourselves from our limiting belief systems, thoughts, selfish intentions and actions that do not serve our greater good.

Let Feigels help you with a totally Kosher for Pesach Sedar.

Check out our menu at www.feigels.com

Why Eat Hamantashen on Purim? 

 

I attended the Sinai Indaba last Sunday and if any of you heard Charlie Harari speak, I’m sure you’d agree that he is an incredible, inspiring and empowering speaker.

I love this…

Charlie said this of food; that the Jewish people are the only nation that has turned their enemies into food.

On Purim we celebrate the triumph of Mordechai over Haman; of Light over the Dark.

So what better way than to turn the evil Haman into Hamantashen which we now fill with mon, cheese, apple and chocolate and eat in their thousands.

Some other interesting points…

  • “Tash” in Hebrew means “weaken.” So the hamantash celebrates the weakening of Haman and that G‑d always helps us by weakening our enemies. (Chabad.Org)
  • During the Purim story, many Jews did not believe they were going be completely wiped out. Mordechai convinced them of the seriousness of the threat by sending warning letters hidden inside pastries. In commemoration of this, we eat pastries with a filling. (Chabad.Org)
  • In Biblical days our ancestors experienced open miracles. Now days we are learning that our miracles are concealed; that G-d is always with us even though we think we cant see him. So we conceal delicious fillings inside the Hamantashen to remind us of this.

 

So from me Tamar and all of us at Feigels we wish you a Chag Sameach

Thank you for all your support.

We hope you enjoy all the Hamantashen and we look forward to serving you during the weeks leading up to Pesach.