As a Jewish mom raising a Jewish family, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that my kids had never eaten a knish—until our recent taste-test at Michael’s Deli in Brookline. And let me just tell you—these pastries filled with deliciousness are a real game-changer (but you probably already knew that). Steven Peljovich, owner of Michael’s Deli, doesn’t just make the traditional potato and spinach knishes; he creates “krazy knishes.” Each week he makes three different kinds that all connect in some way. When we visited, he served us kung pao chicken and fried rice knishes to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Before this visit, I don’t think I had ever tasted a knish I actually liked. I grew up with more Sephardic food influences and rarely ate knishes anyway. This may have rubbed off on my daughter, Dalya; before even stepping into the restaurant, she declared: “Knish might make me die. I don’t want knish!” So yes, I was nervous.
At first the kids only chose three different pieces of knish to try. The options included potato, spinach, beef and potato, pastrami and, as I mentioned, kung pao chicken and fried rice. Turns out they were a big hit. Jonah and Solomon each had second—and third—helpings of the pastrami knish. Jonah coolly stated, “It tastes like a hot dog, and I really like hot dogs.” Solomon agreed. He also went back for the beef and potato knish, which he dubbed “the Jewish meatball one.”
After trying the fried-rice flavor, Jonah said: “I like the Chinese New Year one. It tastes like the noodles I eat, but rice. So good.” Solomon said he thought it was spicy (it had a splash of Sriracha sauce) but Jonah didn’t think it was spicy at all. (Solomon is the one who normally loves Sriracha potato chips.) Of course you never can tell with kids: Just the week before Solomon declared he didn’t eat meat, and there we were enjoying meat knishes. Going in, I thought for sure they would only nibble on the potato knish, but they surprised me with more and more helpings of the pastrami.
The younger kids, Edie, Dalya and Sophia, who are all almost 3, tried some of the flavors but weren’t as adventurous as the two boys. Edie, who eats vegetarian, really liked the veggie-based knishes. She yelled, “This is delicious!” I asked her if she would eat a knish for dinner, and she said yes.
Sophia, meanwhile, said, “The potato one is my first favorite, and the rice one is my different favorite.” (She clearly has a very scientific rating scale.)
Dalya, who obviously did not end up dying by knish, actually really liked the spinach one. “Yummy in my tummy” were her precise words.
After this visit, I’m definitely open to eating knishes as snacks or main meals. They are quick, yummy and filling!