At the famous Jean-Yves Bordier butter factory in the Brittany region of France, the churned butter is kneaded by hand and then shaped by two wooden paddles to form clods, slabs, or tailored portions ordered by the greatest chefs.
On a recent windy evening, M. and I had bagel and lox at the Russ & Daughters cafe in the lower basement of the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue. We shared “The Classic,” a board with Gaspé Nova Scotia smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion, and capers.
Bagels and lox is a staple that’s as American as the burger, though lesser-known. For some, the dish isn’t complete without onion rings and a sprinkling of capers. Neither the bread, nor the fish originated in the U.S., but their pairing happened in New York.
Smoked salmon is commonly called lox. But not all smoked salmon is lox. The salty, pickled, belly meat of cold-smoked salmon is what traditional Jewish lox is.
Lox comes to us by way of the Scandinavians. It was they who mastered the art of preserving salmon in brine. The bagel, a cousin of the pretzel—which is boiled before it’s baked—traces its roots to Polish Jewish bakers.