If Jewish tradition has you eating Chinese and going to the movies for Christmas, then it shouldn’t be surprising that Jewish food itself plays a starring role in many movies and TV shows. It may not have its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but we all know Jewish food deserves more than just 15 minutes.
Grab a plate—we’ll share recommended pairings—and a comfy seat on the couch to stream the following films and shows starring our favorite foods.
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Famous Brisket
Midge Maisel wins people over in two ways: laughs and brisket. In the hit Amazon series, Jewish American housewife Midge Maisel lives in New York City during the late 1950s and 60s. Her famous brisket appears several times in the show, snagging her husband some prime comedy stage time and curing her homesickness while touring with comedian Shy Baldwin.
Claimed to be magic and “the reason the Angel of Death spared us” on Passover, Midge’s brisket is one of many Jewish elements to the show. Amazon shared the recipe for Midge’s Famous Brisket, but you can also make a Moroccan-Style Brisket with Dried Fruit and Capers or Joan Nathan’s favorite brisket to eat while watching the show. “I’m buying it a sash and a crown,” Midge says about her brisket and we have to agree—brisket is always a winner for dinner.
A Sex and the City Shabbat
In season six of Sex and the City, Charlotte is dating a Jewish man named Harry. She’s head over heels in love, having gone so far as to convert to Judaism and nail a mezuzah to her doorway. Determined to start her first Shabbat with an engagement, she prepares an elaborate meal of challah, matzah ball soup and brisket. This is sadly overshadowed by a baseball game on TV her boyfriend won’t stop watching. Instead of ending the meal with a ring on her finger, Charlotte ends up single, without a boyfriend or her TV.
Counter Charlotte’s Shabbat disaster with your Shabbat success. Make a classic braided challah, homemade gefilte fish, smoked matzah ball soup and apple cake for a comforting New York-inspired Shabbat dinner.
The Sturgeon Queens: Russ and Daughters
Russ and Daughters is Jewish food landmark in New York City. The lox-and-herring emporium has gone through the hands of four generations of a Jewish immigrant family since it first opened in 1914. To commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2014, The Sturgeon Queens premiered to tell the story behind the legendary store.
The documentary narrates the life of the founder, Joel Russ, a poor immigrant from Eastern Europe who sold herring from a pushcart before opening his store on the Lower East Side. Interspersed with interviews from famous fish lovers, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, the film is narrated in the style of a Passover seder with six longtime fans of the shop.
It’s impossible to watch the documentary without craving smoked fish, but luckily, we’ve got some favorite recipes you can make to snack on while watching The Sturgeon Queens. Plan in advance, and you can make your own homemade beet-cured lox or gravlax. You can also make carrot lox for a vegan substitute. If you’d rather purchase smoked fish, put it on top of some dough for a Smoked Salmon Pizza. Grab some bagels and coffee, and you’ve got a brunch spread worthy of Russ and Daughters.
Of course, you can always watch an episode of Seinfeld for a Jewish food reference (an exhaustive list can be found here). With many more days ahead of us to stay home and watch TV, what’s more comforting than your favorite Jewish foods both on the screen and on your table?