We’re All Fressers at Philacatessen


    Introducing Philacatessen, the Jewish Exponent's new food blog, and the team of four fressers who can't wait to tell you all about the Philly food scene. 

    What's a fresser?

    Calvin Trillin didn't harp on this Yiddish word in his classic series of food books (affectionately known as "The Tummy Trilogy"). But he called himself  "a big hungry boy," which is as close as you can get to a contextual definition of what makes a fresser, except for the gender bias. Women can be fressers, too.

    Here at Philacatessen, we’re all fressers. But we’re foodies, too.

    What's the difference between a fresser and a foodie?

    A fresser loves food, sometimes too much. A foodie does, too, but wants to shout about it, talk about it, post Instagrams about it, argue about it.

    And write about it, which is what my three colleagues — Bruce Holberg, Keri White, Michael Bomze — and I will do in this new Jewish Exponent food blog.

    Bruce, who boasts "a prodigious appetite and a memory of virtually every meal" since being weaned, is also a dedicated wine-lover. He's the former leader of a gastronomic society in the Delaware Valley and will keep you informed about "the joys of the table and cellar."

    Keri brings to our team a commitment to food as a bridge between and among people. That perspective developed as "the Gentile half of an interfaith couple" who learned to make light, fluffy kneidlach from her husband's aunt and built a wide-ranging Jewish kitchen repertoire from there.

    To describe Michael as peripatetic would be an understatement — he admits to having spent more time in shuls abroad over the last 10 years than back home in the Philadelphia area. Michael, who considers ethical and local food sourcing as important as taste when selecting where to dine, can be found on weekends foraging among the stalls at the Headhouse Square and Clark Park farmers’ markets.

    As for me, I'll attempt to address the eternal question: Is it good to eat? And if it is, what are the cultural imperatives creating such marvelous Jewish cuisine?

    My career as a fresser began early thanks to my mother's good cooking in our 1950s kitchen, where she would make two versions of stuffed cabbage (one sweet-and-sour, the other not) to please everyone at the table. When we lunched at our local deli, I always asked for my brisket or corned beef to include the fatty part, the deckle.

    This is the stuff I'm made of and seek out, whether in a restaurant or my own kitchen. As I find it, I'll let you know all about it right here.