“The Bialy Eaters” by Mimi Sheraton

This short, amusing book describes attempts by the author (a former NY Times food critic) to work out the history of the bialy.  Much of the book consists of light, pleasant tales of her meetings and interviews with expatriates from the Jewish community of Bialystok, Poland, which was almost entirely wiped out during World War 2.  It was a fun read, though I have trouble imagining it would be of interest to anyone who has not eaten bialys.  Of particular interest to me, given my previous post, is the fact that Melbourne, Australia is one of several places with large groups of Bialystok emigrés that appears.  Finally, I thought the food critic nature of the author shone through in funny ways.  Sheraton is scathingly negative about many of the bialys she eats in the course of her research.  She also maintains both that it is very important that bialys be cooked until crispy and are best served straight from the oven, and that toasting a bialy is a strange and unnatural activity.

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