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.