“Di Milkhome tsvishn Tshap-sui un Gefilte Fish”

I was reminded of this image, which circulated the internet this past Christmas season, when I read in Diner’s book about the early Jewish social pattern of going out to Chinese restaurants. Diner writes (205-206):

In 1928 Der Tog, a New York daily Yiddish newspaper, ran an article entitled, “Di Milkhome tsvishn Tshap-sui un Gefilte Fish” (The War between Chop Suey and Gefillte Fish). Although slightly tongue-in-cheek, the article’s juxtaposition of the Chinese dish with the symbol of Jewish cultural continuity as embodied in food hinted at challenges to Jewish practice.

It is kind of a throw-away paragraph in the chapter, but I imagine she included it because of the enduring salience of the connection. The above image generated much reposting and knowing LOLing.

Leave a comment


  1. dygottlieb

     /  January 29, 2012

    Ha! I had hoped Diner would do much more with this connection–seems like a fruitful LES crossover phenomenon. Also would have been interesting as it pertains to her argument re: kashrut, since many Jews felt comfortable eating Chinese food because it contained no dairy or only had small, “unnoticeable” (and thus spiritually acceptable) flecks of meat in the dishes. See these articles:for more on Jews, Chinese food, kosher Chinese restos, etc.:

    -Hanna Miller’s piece, “Identity Takeout: How American Jews Made
    Chinese Food Their Ethnic Cuisine,” in the Journal of Popular Culture: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libproxy.temple.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2006.00257.x/full

    -Harry Levine and G. Tuchman, “NEW YORK JEWS AND CHINESE FOOD: The Social Construction of an Ethnic Pattern,” in Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

    -Nonna Gorilovskaya, “Jews & Chinese Food: A Love Story,” in Moment: http://proquest.umi.com.libproxy.temple.edu/pqdlink?Ver=1&Exp=01-27-2017&FMT=7&DID=1925532821&RQT=309

  2. I think you’ll agree that the section on Jewish foodways was the least developed of the three in the book. Unlike the Italian and Irish sections, which had strong arguments that contrasted well with each other, I thought she struggled for a direction for the Jewish section. I also suppose some of the interesting LES crossover stuff falls outside her timeframe for the book, so she mentions Chinese food once and then quickly moves on. I wish she had done more with the bagel, too.


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