When my father came home from his Saturday night gin game on Sunday morning, he would often bring lox, bagels, and bialys from The Delicacy Shop, the Jewish appetizing store in our Long Island community. When the triple “schnides” (from “Schneiders”—gin rummy shutouts) were in his favor, we’d awaken to a breakfast of salmon in its many other guises—baked, pickled, and smoked Nova Scotia—style—as well as sable, whitefish, herring in sour cream sauce, scallion cream cheese, and beefsteak tomatoes.
But always there would be the Middle Eastern confection we knew as shoe leather—a sheet of dried apricot, rolled as thin as onion skin, as mouth-puckering as lemonade.
Is it me or the shoe leather? Today’s leather, or its many unflattering imitations, is too sweet, or too thick, or too bland. I’d never make it, though—it is the kind of craving, like pistachio nuts, that demands instant gratification. When I hunger for the taste, I tuck into the tartest dried apricots I can find (in Middle Eastern or Jewish appetizing stores, these are usually the ones from California, not Turkey). If I have enough left over, I make this applesauce, which is wonderful with latkes or pot roast—or just a spoon.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.