Russ & Daughters

April 19, 2014

Pesach cruises along, about half done. Now, usually, I get focused on the bread. That’s mostly the point, for we don’t eat leavened products for eight days to remember our people leaving Egypt in a rush. (As an aside, and as a reminder that the bible and history often don’t co-exist perfectly—highlighting, perhaps the inherent conflicts between fiction and non-fiction—here’s a piece by Smarya Rosenberg, Passover:  The Real Meaning of Matzah, from

Alas, my focus on bread does not relate to the affliction imposed on my people; instead, it’s the affliction I’m feeling, missing a favored part of my diet and a treasured hobby. Now, I’ve shared a decent amount about my bread world. The reviews are mostly favorable, although one reader noted that the pizza thing seems hard, as if by reading my post he felt like he needed to add one more accomplishment to a very accomplished life. So, no bread today! But food, yes.

I’ll be in New York next month, giving our daughter a taste of the town. We’re there to eat, although friends and site-seeing will also keep us plenty busy. Lots of places on the lists already, and we haven’t really started planning the trip very hard yet. (I’m working on a post about The Paradox of Choice:  Why More is Less, a great book about an important topic. In the meantime, here’s author Barry Schwartz in a TED Talk on the topic.) So many choices in NYC; so little time!

I’m focused today on Russ & Daughters. It’s a very famous, 100-year-old appetizing store. The website is here:  Russ & Daughters. First, dancing around in my head are visions of bagels, real bagels. And smoked fish! Fish that is fine! Fish worth eating!

Second, though, I’m thinking about the notion of a business that thrives after 100 years. One hundred years represents a long span. Thriving after so long probably makes sense, for if a business does not thrive it will likely not survive. Nevertheless, it’s an extraordinary feat.

There’s also a book, Russ & Daughters:  Reflections and Recipes From the House That Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman, grandson of the founder. I enjoyed the book immensely. It’s a fine history of a business, but it’s also a history of an area—the lower East Side of New York—and a history of a lifestyle, the neighborhood-driven life of a people. Not so much of that anymore, and it wasn’t all milk and honey for sure, but the book highlights the lifestyle well.

P.S. Pictures will be taken!


3 Responses to Russ & Daughters

Leave a Reply