Bagel and a Schmear

Almost every Saturday, my wife and I participate in a morning ritual. We leash up the dog, head out the door and make a beeline for Rachael’s Nosheri to get our favorite breakfast: bagel and a schmear.

Being from New York, I’m used to having Jewish delis and bagel places everywhere. Unfortunately, while Philly has its fair share of Italians and their pastas, cheeses and produce (there’s even an Italian Market district), the city suffers from a distinct lack of Hebrew food.

It’s lucky for us, then, that this small, family-operated place is just around the corner. They have all the classics – though we go strictly for the marble rye bagels – and fill out the menu with standard American deli and grill dishes. Rachael herself is there every day and rings up every customer, including neighborhood “regulars” like us.

By the way, I didn’t know “schmear” was such an unknown word to the average Pennsylvanian. When I first mentioned it to a friend here, he had no idea what I was talking about. And this in no way an isolated incident.

So, in the interest of public education… a “schmear” is the spread of cream cheese that should invariably accompany a toasted bagel. You’ll also often see lox (smoked salmon slices) thrown on top, but this is optional. A schmear is essential.

I encourage all my readers to broaden their cultural horizons and learn more Yiddish.

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