September 2022 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Hi everyone. Jaime, Ronnie’s daughter, here. My dad asked if I’d be interested in writing the blog this month, so here I am. I am a teacher by trade and one thing I always encouraged my students to do was ask questions. Questions are powerful. They foster thinking and wonder. This gave me an idea. Let’s go back to the basics.  Since I came back to work at Ben’s last summer- after working there on and off throughout high school and college- I was inundated with questions from friends regarding certain foods, preparation, etc., so it made me think our customers were curious as well.

Let’s start with an anecdote about Howard Stern. Many years ago, when Howard Stern lived on Long Island, he frequented our Greenvale store. One day he asked his server the difference between a square and round knish in which his server replied, “Four corners!” Well, Howard Stern went on his radio show and rehashed this interaction for all to hear!! So, let’s uncover some of these Kosher mysteries. I asked a handful of customers and friends and here’s what I got…

What makes meat kosher?

Um, the preparation.”

“The meat is blessed by a rabbi.”

“It’s the type of meat and the way it is prepared.”

“It’s the way it’s slaughtered, and the rabbi blesses it.”

The truth is:

For meat to be considered kosher, it must be slaughtered properly. This Jewish practice is called shechita. Jewish law also prohibits the consumption of any blood, so once the animal has been killed, the meat undergoes a special soaking and salting process to remove the blood. Kosher meat is from the forequarter of the animal, not the hindquarter. (No shellfish, no pork either!)

What is goulash?


“Egg noodles and meat.”

“A jail in Russia.”

“A mix of vegetables that I won’t eat.”

“It’s beef and noodles with a brown sauce.”

The truth is:

Goulash is made with stew meat. It was an Eastern European peasant food since it was then a cheaper cut of meat that had to be cooked for longer periods of time to become tender.

What’s the difference between a square and round knish?

“A round knish has no corners.”

“The round tastes better (laughs).”

“The angles.”

“Hmm, maybe you would you get more with the square?”

“One is baked the other is fried.”

“Round is baked, square is fried.”

“One of them definitely has meat in it.”

“I think that is one is potato, and one is something else.”

The truth is:

The difference between the homemade round knishes and the Coney Island Squares is four corners. On a more serious note, the homemade round knishes are baked while the squares are fried.

What is gefilte fish?

“Disgusting (laughs) It’s a bottom feeder.

“Oh g-d I don’t know, I don’t eat fish. I have no idea, dead fish.”

“Fish that’s been through a grinder.”

“It’s sort of like a fish patty.”

“It’s pickled herring, isn’t it? Wait no, it’s the gold coins.” (spoken by a true Shiksa from out of state)

“Slimy fish, and you eat with horseradish sauce.”

“Smoked fish, mackerel.”

“It’s a silver fish.”

“It’s like a pickled fish.”

“A mixture of whitefish, halibut and chopped onions.”

The truth is:

Gefilte fish is made by removing bones from various white fish like carp, whitefish, mullet, and pike, grinding them up and then mixing with breadcrumbs and eggs. It’s essentially a fish burger or patty.

What’s the difference between sour and half sour pickles?

“One is olive green, and the other is regular green.”

“Hmm, sour has been fermented longer.”

“Ummm, one will make you make a funnier face than the other.”

“The color and all pickles should be half sour.”

“The amount of vinegar used.”
“The way they’re made, and they both start out as cucumbers.”

“The color and maybe the cucumbers you use?”

“One has more vinegar.”

“Something to do with the brine, but I’m not entirely sure.”

The truth is:

It takes up to six months to make Kirby cucumbers into sour pickles while half sours (or also referred to as new pickles) takes days/weeks.

So, there you have it. Some on point, some entertaining, and some responses completely off the grid. Whatever the response, it was fun to be a part of these conversations.

It has been a year since I came back to work with the amazing team at Ben’s and I’ve truly enjoyed my time here. My dad began the Ben’s journey 50 years ago and I intend on helping keep our family tradition alive by bringing new generations into our restaurants. So, as my dad always says, “See you (and your kids and grandkids) at the deli!”

Jaime Dragoon Passy

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