Last Friday July 4 the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly had an absolute blast hosting the launch of Laura Silver's definitive book on the surprisingly complex and historically meaningful knish. Silver's book, Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food, had its Canadian launch with us, and we (and all the attendees) couldn't have been happier.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ezra Soiferman, director of Man of Grease – among other punnily named movies – gave an immensely delightful and witty intro, opening with the most solid confirmation of our microphones working we've ever heard: "Can you hear me up there? Can you hear me down here? Can you hear me in the middle?”
So what did Ezra Soiferman have to say about the illustrious Laura Silver? Well, besides the basics (Laura is a native New Yorker and an award-winning journalist whose writing on food and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Forward, the Jerusalem Report and on NPR), Laura and Ezra met at Le Mood, a Jewish arts and cultural event with mini lectures on a variety of Jewish topics, such as food and politics. Ezra also announced that as of the event, Knish was in its second printing.
The knishes that were featured at the event for all attendees were from Montreal favourite, Cheskie’s. Ezra gave the audience his Cheskie’s must-have: the chocolate babka. The secret to getting the right babka? One of them is the one that looks like a loaf of bread, it’s a bit dry, it’s alright, and the second one? It’s one of the best foods in the world. It’s the one behind the counter behind the cashier, a little to the right. The more you know.
Laura's talk included three readings, the highlight of which was the tale of a Polish town named Knyszyn, [KNISH-en], and the legend of the Knyszyn knish, which has its first English translation in Silver's book.
After the reading, Laura invited all the attendees of the launch to participate in what, as far as we know, is the first known knish drawing competition.
People frantically drew the baked snack, showcasing the variety in style, shape, and scale that Silver discussed in her reading. These were no "provincial" New York knishes, people; there were donut-shaped knishes, cube knishes... even sentient knishes.
Here are just a few examples. Truly, you are all wise baked good artists. The judges deliberated for a long time before awarding the prize to not one but two participants. The prize? Well, drumroll please...
The world's first publicly waffled knish! What does that mean, you ask? Well it kind of means what it sounds like: the amazing smell of Daniel Shumski, author of the upcoming Will It Waffle putting a knish in a waffle iron and coming out with... a waffled knish. It was too great.
Afterwards, people went knish crazy. It was a damn good time.
Thanks so much to everyone for coming, to Laura Silver, Ezra, Daniel, and everyone involved with a book. It was such an incredibly good time. And for all of you who missed out for either soccer or Flaneur related reasons, you can still get Knish where else but at the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly!