This morning as I was walking to work through the sweltering haze, I suddenly wished I had a schmaltz sandwich for my lunch. Schmaltz sandwiches used to be my most absolute favourite lunch in the whole wide world when I was a kid.

We’d only get schmaltz in the winter, because schmaltz was a winter food. My mum had very strict ideas about things we could and could not eat in the summer and things we could and could not eat in the winter. All that fruit we canned in the summer, for instance, we weren’t allowed to touch until after Christmas. No salads were ever eaten in our home in fall or winter. No soups were ever eaten in our home in summer or spring.

 You get the picture.

 Anyway, schmaltz was reserved only for the very deepest depths of winter. So, when she reckoned it was as dark and cold as it was going to get, she’d get out the “big” pot and toss in a pound or two of lard and let it melt over a low flame. Then she’d add some chopped apples and sliced onions and a lot of salt and let it all simmer for a while. When it was almost ready, mum would chuck in a couple of weeks’ worth of bacon drippings and pour the whole thing into a big bowl and leave it to set it in the fridge.

When it was good and hard, the schmaltz would get spread on thick slices of dark rye bread, wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into my black Barbie lunch pail next to the thermos of hot milk — the smell of which would make me gag as I dumped it out on my way to school.

Hearty schmaltz-on-rye doorstop sandwiches were the best thing ever – coating my innards with a nice layer of fat to keep me warm on those freezing wintery days.

I wonder why I had a yen for schmaltz this morning? …. Or any morning for that matter.


26 responses to “Schmaltz

  1. LOL. Sounds *really* healthy!

    I always get cravings for “Steak -ums”. I have fond memories of my mother frying them with onions in the morning to the sound of British gossiping on old “Coronation Street” episodes. After they were cooked, she would put the onions and meat between two slices of white bread. Hmmm!

    They don’t make “Steak-ums” anymore and I don’t eat cow, but damn, they were good! 🙂

  2. Sounds a lot like scrapple from Pennsylvania. That stuff however is made up thick enough to be cut into slices and then fried or otherwise cooked to be eaten. As they say they put in all the pig except the squeal.
    It amazes me how many of the world’s “peasant food” is still some of the favourite stuff we get to eat. Haggis and shephards pie also come to mind.
    By the way do you have real schmaltz or is it some froofy veggie take on the real thing.

  3. I still make a vaguely healthier vegetarian version of this.

    If I ever buy that vegan kosher “bacon salt” it will be perfect.

    I fry onions and apples in a whack of butter and cut day old bread into chunks then fry the bread.

    The kids love it with some sugar sprinkled on top, but I think it should be savory and sprinkle mine with salt.

    We tend to eat it in February when we’re going out of our minds with the grey.

    It is one of the few dishes Darkmirror will actually make for himself from real ingredients (as opposed to things from cans)

  4. Crap – I was wondering what I could do with the lard and bacon fat that I was saving for the last year – and you found me the perfect solution – only AFTER I threw it out…..
    Oh well I guess its a better thing that I didn’t know because at least I can still go bra-less.

  5. Jazz – No it doesn’t. It sounds revolting. It’s LARD!!!

    Pauline – Ah, memories of food we don’t eat anymore, eh? Olden days people thought we needed extra fat in the winter to survive and stay healthy in the cold. I guess there’s probably something to that and we did all manage to stay healthy and (at the time) rail thin despite the mass consumption of pure saturated fat.

    Dave1949 – I don’t have schmaltz at all anymore. There’s really no way to duplicate rendered pig fat. The closest I can come is to load some veggie bacon on dark rye. But I probably wouldn’t bother.

    Nat – Sorry. It IS a bit much on a day like today, isn’t it? Come winter, a slab of pork fat maybe won’t sound like such a revolting idea. Maybe….. Probably not …

    Mudmama – Ya, that sounds pretty gross, too – no offense. “Whack of butter”…yum. I didn’t know you could get vegan kosher bacon salt??? Is that just salt that tastes like bacon – so you can sprinkle it on your baked potato or popcorn or something?

    Lebanowski – For sure you’ve now disqualified yourself from the 24-hour challenge and will have to start over.

    Geewits – I agree. I don’t even know why or how that popped into my head this morning. I should have put a warning at the beginning: Please do not try this at home!!

  6. When I was little, every Sunday morning my dad would make these little things we called “crunchies.” And basically it was tiny specks of fat that he’d fry up until they were super crispy, then he’d sprinkle salt on them. We’d always eat the hell out of it. None of us would ever think to make that now.

  7. I think my arteries are clogging from just reading about this concoction. 🙂

    Isn’t it amazing what you can eat as a kid and yet somehow stay thin? I used to love braunschweiger/liverwurst sandwiches. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t eat one now or even smell one without gaining 10 pounds.

  8. I’ve never heard of schmaltz until now, which is strange, because I spent a good part of my early childhood in Idaho, where there were farms all over the place, including the parents of the lady I lived with. We had pickled cow’s tongue, pickled pig’s feet, hog head cheese, you name it, but nothing called schmaltz. It sounds like it would be kind of good; warped as my mind and taste buds are. Maybe one day I’ll come across it, and get to at least try it.
    Jessica, The eternal food whore.

  9. @ Jessica “schmaltz” is just the German word for GREASE!

    @XUP – a whack in more precise terms would be…about a tbsp per person…so here 6 tbsp of butter, a big onion, 3 apples and 12 pieces of good but a bit stale bread. And yes bacon salt is vegan bacon flavoured salt. The same company makes a vegan mayonnaise flavoured like bacon. Darkmirror will probably get some for Christmas this year.

  10. Lol… I wonder why even bother with the apples? Fibre? I’ve never heard of schmaltz until now. But really, it’s not sounding all that different from butter with bacon and fruit flavoring. Butter, bacon and fruit — yum! Mom used to fry our eggs in bacon grease and we all loved it.

  11. Dr. Monkey – No wonder we’re so messed up, eh?

    Lebanowski – Yes.

    LGS – Shhhh…don’t tell them or they’ll steal the recipe.

    Trashy – It really just takes what everyone loves about bacon and puts it in a condensed form.

    Linsey – “None of us would ever think to make that now”…really? Isn’t that just bacon – except tinier? Where did your dad get these “tiny specks of fat”?? (And by the way, did you know that speck in German means fat?) This is a most eerie comment.

    Meanie – Sounds disgusting, but it was so tasty to a kid who didn’t realize she was chowing down on rendered pork fat.

    Kimberly – I loved liverwurst with sweet & sour pickles. I don’t know. People back then ate all sorts of stuff we think of as “fattening” and yet they were slim while we – who are all ever-so-conscious about eating “good” stuff are all over-weight???

    Zchamu – Thank you.

    Jessica M. – It may have fallen out of fashion since I was a kid seeing as how it’s pure saturated fat and people aren’t really supposed to be eating that anymore. I imagine some really old German people might still be eating it. Which would be ironic since they managed to get really old while still eating pure saturated fat, wouldn’t it?

    Mudmama – Yay!! Nothing like finding bacon-flavoured mayo in your Christmas stocking!! That’s priceless. I’ll have to see if I can find this salt. I can think of a few uses for it.

    Davina – The apples give it flavour – they, along with the onions are, of course strained out before the stuff gets put in the fridge. I guess I should have mentioned that in my recipe. Who has butter with bacon and fruit flavouring? Is that a popular thing somewhere??

  12. Ooh. I would find that type of food offensive.

    I’d prefer to eat my own organic variety.

    Tofu and cruelty-free lima bean oil, blended and simmered blended to resemble Eco-Lard, without having to kill any of Mother Earth’s poor woodland creatures.

    Mix these in with nuts and berries, sustainably hand-picked from virgin West-coast rain forest, by fair-trade hunter-gatherers.

    Spread it all on 16-Grain Colon-Blow Granola Bread, wash down with Rhubarb lemonade.

    Yum! 🙂

  13. Ellie – No offense taken. It was a long time ago when stuff like that was still good.

    Frair – Ah yes, that never gets old, does it? Mocking the non-lard eaters. When was the last time YOU ate schmaltz? These days we put it into bird feeders in the winter.

  14. I never had schmaltz.

    But I had my grandma’s turkey gravy.

    Which essentially consisted of doing nothing, but pouring the pan drippings directly into a gravy boat. I remember the 1/4 inch of clear oily grease floating on top.

    Yum…? 😦

    (Okay, I admit…that was a bit too much, even for a hard-core meatarian like me!)