Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Sumptuous Feast at Sterling Street

This took place in the fall of 1968 when I joined Gedaliah in New York. He was attending Princeton University and I was learning in Mirrer Yeshiva. The original idea was that I would board with Gedaliah and commute to Flatbush where the Mirrer Yeshiva was located. Gedaliah foresaw all of my needs for learning since he had studied at the Mirrer Yeshiva. He introduced me to our cousin, Zundel Berman so I could purchase the basic Torah library I would need. He was a wonderful, supportive, loving, older brother.

Gedaliah was living in a basement apartment on Sterling Street. On this particular evening, although it was nowhere near July, fireworks and firecrackers were being set off on the street above our basement apartment. It sounded like we were in a war zone.

When the two of us got hungry, Gedaliah took it upon himself to provide a nice meal. He opened the freezer and took out a glatt kosher steak that had been supplied by Mommy A.H. In those days there were relatively few people who ate glatt and therefore the quality of the meat was very poor. They seemed to reserve the oldest, toughest , orneriest animals for Glatt. This particular piece of beef would have been perfectly suited for a tannery and would have looked lovely as the saddle for a horse.

Now that we had the meat, the question was how to prepare it. Gedaliah took out a pot that he used for soup so he could boil it. Although he knew that steak is usually broiled, he reasoned that this way they could have soup as well. Of course, he had no idea how long to boil it or for that matter what else to cook with it. Water of course was necessary, but why spoil the wonderful delicacy by adding any sort of spices?

The two of us shared this soup. I imagine dishwater would have been tastier, but we enjoyed it because we were hungry and had made it ourselves. As for eating the steak itself, it was so tough that we started a contest- a carpenters contest. The goal was to be the first person to saw through the steak and get a piece into his mouth. But cutting off a piece was only the beginning, because then the chewing started. . I don't remember who won the contest but I do remember that in the end, my jaw was sore from the chewing. But most of all, I remember the love, the humor and the special wisdom of my brother Gedaliah.

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