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I know that all human beings have strong feelings about their food traditions. And I know that Jews especially have strong feelings about our food traditions.
I know this because every winter, I see countless arguments pop up on the internet about the best latke topping — applesauce, sour cream, or, gasp, ketchup — with passionate words thrown down by people who surely miss their days on the high school debate team. Around Passover the argument turns to matzah balls, whether they should be sinkers or floaters. Purim time brings countless people asking, “Are hamantaschen even good?” and every week gifts us the opportunity to fight over whether challah should be sliced or torn.
Mostly I think these debates are silly — I subscribe to the “don’t yuck someone else’s yum” policy and think people should eat what they want to eat and let others do the same, to stop with all the senseless fighting.
But when someone comes for my kugel? Put me in, coach.
You see, my kugel recipe comes from my late grandmother, my nana, who called herself “the kugel queen” and who herself got the recipe from “an old friend named Tillie” she knew in Chicago. It is the sweet noodle variety, with cream cheese, lots of sugar and a can of crushed pineapple. And, most importantly, it has cornflakes on top.
If you are now saying to yourself, “Cornflakes on kugel? Gross!” then you, my friend, are wrong. You’re just wrong. While it may not be the way the majority of American Jews make kugel, I feel confident in saying that anyone who has tried sweet noodle kugel with cornflakes on top absolutely loves sweet noodle kugel with cornflakes on top. There is nothing bad that can be said about it. The cereal gets a nice toasty flavor in the oven and adds a much-needed crunch to the creaminess of the cheesy noodles. It’s the perfect side dish to any savory meal; the perfect break fast food; the perfect breakfast food; just the perfect food, period.
I’ll be making it this year for my family on Rosh Hashanah, and I love that I can share this little piece of my grandmother with my daughter, who never got to meet my nana but who I’m sure will grow up loving — and fighting for — cornflakes on kugel.
And I hereby vow to always respect her food preferences, as long as she doesn’t put ketchup on latkes.
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