Knish History 101

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Taught by Laura Silver

Laura Silver is an award-winning journalist whose writing on food and culture has appeared in the New York Times and the Forward and on NPR. Laura teaches in the Food Studies Department at the New School for Public Engagement and has been a writer in residence at the Millay Colony, the Banff Centre, and the New York Public Library. She is considered the world’s leading expert on the knish. 

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What is a knish?

Perhaps you've encountered the square fried version at a street cart, or come across the baked, round kind at one of New York's surviving knisheries. This two-session course explores the wrapped potato pastry of Eastern European Jewish origin through legends, songs, and tastings.

Knish enthusiasts, knish veterans and the knish curious are all warmly invited to join this interactive exploration.

Part 1: At the first meeting, we'll explore the history of this storied food on American shores. From the Knish Wars of Rivington Street to Mayor Rudy Guiliani's 1990s regulation of oven temperatures in the city's sidewalk food carts, the potato pocket is inextricably linked to the history of New York City.

Part 2: We'll explore the roots and modern-day manifestations of the savory pie on foreign shores, with stops in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East. On our agenda: Talmudic commentary about the early knish a hunt for hot pockets on the streets of Paris and a Polish legend that links the stuffed dough to mourning rituals

We'll conclude each session with a knish tasting. Bring your questions and memories!

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