HOT BIALYS, Forest Hills

by Kevin Walsh

I was furtively wandering down Queens Boulevard on Tuesday, occasionally pausing to wipe off my glasses, as the Illness Mask fogs up glasses as hot breath is redirected onto them. I was still north of Union Turnpike/the Jackie and thus, considered myself still in Forest Hills because by my lights, Kew Gardens begins south of Union Turnpike, when I spotted this classic plastic-lettered sign across the pedal-to-the-metal Boulevard of Death.

Outside of New York City, I doubt you see many signs advertising “bialys” and “appetizing.” A bialy resembles the better-known bagel, but has a depression, not a hole, in the center like a bagel, and it comes with a filling such as onions or poppy seeds; is simply baked without boiling (bagels are boiled before baking). Bialys can be served with cream cheese, smoked fish or other extras, but many prefer them alone. Bialys were originated in Bialystok which has been in Poland, Germany or Russia depending on who was conquering who.

Note that the usual English orthography is thrown out the window. Usually, y with a consonant in front of it changes to “ie” for the plural, but “bialies” would look sort of awkward, so “bialys” it is.

“Appetizing” is one of the few words ending in “-ing” that can be used as a noun, as well as “inning.” In Jewish food store lingo, it comprises foods that can be put on bagels, such as lox (smoked fish), and cream cheese. Kosher delis skip the cheese products in combination with the lox or any other meat.

All classic bagel sidewalk signs have flames somewhere on them. See if you can spot them here.

So with a name like Walsh, I probably have gotten some stuff wrong. The floor is yours in Comments.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Ed Findlay December 23, 2020 - 1:56 am

…and so we have the origin of Max Bialystok, made famous in the movie and play “Th Producers”

Patrick December 23, 2020 - 5:36 am

The cheese can be kosher. It’s the combination of meat and dairy that isn’t proper. Food service will select whether they will be dairy or meat. Like a kosher pizza restaurant won’t serve meat toppings and a steakhouse won’t serve cheese steak. Fish is considered neutral (pareve) so bagel and lox with cream cheese is kosher.

Ed Greenberg December 23, 2020 - 6:53 am

Oh G-d, now i want a bialy. Being (a) 150 miles north of New York City and (b) a diabetic, this is a problem 🙂

I want to mention a Mask technique I learned from a nurse, recently. Take a napkin or facial tissue. Roll it in a tight cylinder. Insert it under the mask, across the bridge of the nose. Seems to keep the fogging way down.

Happy holidays.

Ed Findlay December 24, 2020 - 1:09 am

It’s the same science as thermoses a two-part ski jackets. An even simpler solution is to just wash the glasses in soapy water which both naturally cleans the dirt and dust off of them as well gives a fine layer on the glasses that prevents fogging. It might not be glamorous as other methods, but it’s proven to work well.

Calum Morrison December 23, 2020 - 7:36 am

Check out Amazon and eBay for anti-fog wipes for your glasses; they aren’t perfect but they should help a bit. The other tip is to smear them with soap, polishing it into the glass so you can see clearly – more of a hassle but it works.

Kevin Walsh December 23, 2020 - 8:41 am

Yeah, it’s a hassle to smear glasses with soapy water every day…

Anita December 23, 2020 - 8:57 pm

I’ll second what Patrick said … although my mind was officially blown when a kosher restaurant of my acquaintance offered a “cheeseburger” on Passover: vegan cheese, leavened-grain-free bun, and actual chopped meat. Where I grew up, appetizing stores did not exist … so my grandfather would shlep from the Bronx on a bus, bearing bagels, bialys, and every possible permutation of smoked fish.

Anonymous December 23, 2020 - 9:14 am

Mmmm. Bagels, Lox, and cream cheese. A staple at any bris.

Nirmal January 14, 2021 - 3:50 pm

Isn’t that lovely?! Right. Well, I moved to New York City and this is where I shall stay. As it were, since you are handing out grammar tips to everyone on other entries here, any rhyme or reason as to why you repeated your link twice? You were THAT excited to imagine you’d be the only left on the city, innit? Hahahahaha

Before you start going all grammar Karen on everyone else, check your stuff. You don’t want to smash your own glass house as u attempt to toss the bleeding things!

Nirmal December 23, 2020 - 5:44 pm

My family lives near here. I went in here once. The guy serving me wasn’t exactly friendly, but the bialy was good. This has been a few years, so I may need to go in and see if the staff has changed since then.

Evan F. Boccardi December 23, 2020 - 8:34 pm

I live on 78th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, in the Marlborough Building, so this is indeed my neighborhood, ‘Forest Hills South’ as my apartment complex claims; Another block and you hit Union Turnpike and Kew Gardens. This is where my wife and I go regularly for bagels; Usually we get pumpernickel or whole wheat, but, perhaps owing to my Polish heritage, I do occasionally find myself in the mood for a bialy, and they are very good here, I usually take mine with a bit of butter. (My family is not from Bialystok, but are also from the North)

Andy December 23, 2020 - 10:20 pm

Kevin, your understanding of Jewish cuisine is very good. Just permit me to add a few points.

Smoked fish includes lox and many other similar salted and preserved fish preparations. Lox is derived from the German word for salmon (“lachs”). Other common Jewish smoked fish includes whitefish, sable (smoked cod), herring, and sturgeon. There are many varieties of lox available in New York. The two best-known are belly lox (salmon that has been cured in a salty brine but not smoked), and nova lox (salmon preserved first in a light brine and then lightly cold-smoked). New York has many retail outlets where lox and other smoked fish are available. The two best known are in Manhattan – Russ and Daughters on East Houston St., and Zabar’s at 80th Street and Broadway. The Acme Smoked Fish Company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is a major wholesaler of these foods, and it opens its doors to the public on Friday mornings.
All of the fish varieties mentioned are scale fish. Shellfish is not permitted in kosher cuisine, much like pork products.

Bagels and bialys go well cream cheese and all types of smoked fish. In fact, there is an old custom that is followed every year at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the most important holiday on the Jewish religious calendar and one that requires a 24 hour fast (for anyone healthy enough). At its conclusion, Jews will typically eat a bagel and a variety of smoked fish, since such a meal does not required cooking and is relatively easy on an empty stomach. Coffee is the beverage most people prefer, but I often cheat a bit and have a beer with my lox and bagel (only after Yom Kippur – any other day it’s coffee). The post-Yom Kippur meal is known as the “break fast” – two words – for obvious reasons.

Bialys, bagels, and their associated foods are literally in my blood. My maternal grandmother was born in Lomza, Poland, a city near Bialystok. She emigrated to the US at about the age of 5.

Tiger December 24, 2020 - 1:18 pm

Both New York and Montreal bagels and bialys are available in Israel.

Curmugeonly December 24, 2020 - 3:29 pm

I live a block away. The original owners, and the Thai family who bought it from them, with the stipulation that they observe the kosher laws, had wonderful food and customer service. The most recent owners, far from it. I stopped going here several years ago because of the unfriendly attitude behind the counter.

Phil Freedenberg December 24, 2020 - 4:43 pm

My late father was born in Bialystok in1914. His immigration papers said Bialystok was in Russia. His passport was in German. He always said he was Polish. Crazy. He said there were no bialys in Bialystok.

ron s December 27, 2020 - 10:41 am

In teaching Biology, I used to describe the red blood cell as being a biconcave disc, kind of like a bialy. Most students had no idea what I was talking about. If I did it outside of NYC no students knew what I was talking about, unless they had come from NYC.

Cate December 28, 2020 - 1:21 am

Band-aid across the bridge of the nose, sticking the mask to the face. Use a fabric band-aid, and the galsses won’t slide. A+ Solution. Thanks for it all. Stay healthy!

Kevin Walsh December 28, 2020 - 1:05 pm

Tried them all, nothing works

Kevin Walsh December 28, 2020 - 1:06 pm

Also: I need to remove glasses frequently to wipe tears. I’m not depressed, but my eyes water frequently between about 32 and 55 degrees.

Alex December 31, 2020 - 7:01 pm

Better alternative, then: realize that the mask is basically just security theater, provides no real benefit to you or to anyone else, and go without it (unless you go into a store or whatever that demands that you wear one, whether because they actually believe in the security theater or because they’re afraid that Comrade Wilhelm will shut them down).

Ray C December 28, 2020 - 5:47 pm

This is our local go to bagel place. Has been for years. The owners are great and the food even better,

Ginger December 28, 2020 - 6:03 pm

The sign attracted me to this place too, I went here a year and a half ago- service was friendly and I ate inside (which I think we all miss terribly).
I was in the area recently but forgot they close at 4pm! Oy. I’m a bagel girl at heart, ha ha!


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