Food and Funerals

I have a friend, call him Bruce. Bruce’s father died a year ago, and instead of being buried, he was put in a mausoleum. This is called being encrypted. This led me to write a joke: “My friend’s father died, and instead of being buried, he was encrypted. Now before they can visit their father’s resting place, his kids have to look up the name of his first girlfriend.”

Yesterday was the unveiling, and since the mausoleum is in Rockridge, we went to lunch in Berkeley aftwards, to a deli called Saul’s. Saul’s is kosher-style, which is another word for treyf, meat, both meat and dairy on the menu, but no pork or shellfish. The walls of Saul’s are covered with LP jackets of Yiddish singers and Jewish comdedians from the heyday of the Borscht Belt, Mort Sahl, and Jackie Mason, and music albums with titles like “Bagels and Bongos.” It is around the corner from the Berkeley-Richmond JCC, and next to a Long’s Drugs, in case you need a Pepto-Bismol afterwards.

The menu at Saul’s reflects an odd kind of Berkeley-Jewish sensibility, honoring the concept of local eating and health-the meat is organic, from Niman Ranch, which means the cows lived in Marin, Napa or Sonoma and had a good life, the eggs are from Glaum Ranch, so the chickens are free range, fed on organic feed, and the whitefish are flown in from the best places, like Russ and Daughters in New York. There is chopped liver, chicken soup with matzo balls, cabbage soup, and beef borscht on the menu, as well as the usual complement of deli sandwiches.

I had the Ukrainian blintzes. I don’t know what made them Ukrainian, but both my mother and father’s hometowns are now part of the Ukraine, and these blintzes were just like my mother’s blintzes on a good day, tender ‘bletlech’ or wrappings, (means leaves),slightly sweet, lightly fried, filled with farmer’s cheese that was soft but not too soft. Really nice. I also had the whitefish salad with toasted bagel. The salad was fresh, with very little mayo and nice cruncy chunks of celery.
As we ate our lunch, the two children, grown men with kids in college, reminisced about their father, and how much he, a non-observant Jew from Chicago who nevertheless came back to the fold and was Bar Mitzvah’d on his deathbed, would have liked the restaurant. We also discussed mortality, and the irony of how the people we know with the healthiest lifestyles are struck down by heart attacks all the time. Then we did NOT order the dessert–we had begun the meal with potato pancakes, and shared around our entrees, and ordered more food than we needed, anyway.

I’m going back.

About Onecakebaker

Author of a memoir called The Girl On the Wall, and working on a novel. Former Synagogue president, gardener, empty nester. Raising bees.
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