We asked our daughter to bring us back just ONE food item from New York City on a recent visit: Irish soda bread from Zabar's deli on the upper west side of Manhattan. The soda bread isn't even on their bread menu, but they keep some under the counter for those in the know. If the nice elderly Jewish ladies with the sharp elbows and pile driver handbags allow you to approach the counter at all. In this case they did, and she brought us a treasured loaf. Heaven. Lightly toasted with a schmear of whatever your cholesterol count is allowing you to have on your bread these days: even better.
But is it traditional? According to the Society for Preservation of Irish Soda Bread
- the answer is a definitive no. Not only does the Zabar's version have raisins, but it also appears to our taste buds to be made with at least some rye flour and has a definite rye/caraway Jewish NYC vibe. Not that we're complaining.
In our family the favored versions have always had raisins, so we will likely continue our heathen ways and add such contraband to our loaves. As for the Irish whisky, orange zest, jalapenos and other "mix ins" the Society finds so disturbing, we'll ingest those separately, beginning with the whisky.