PRATIE PLACE

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chunks and slabs

Marc Musing's story of Jones Flournoy, who cooked for Marc's yeshiva. Excerpts...
Zip-Zap, Chunks and Slabs

Jones was about 60 years old. He knew absolutely nothing about cooking, but the boys loved to play baseball with him. He was a magnificent pitcher, a star in the Negro League in the days that American baseball was still segregated.

Whenever you’d ask Jones about the day’s menu, he’d have one answer: "zip-zap." I have never found a foodstuff in any language called "zip-zap," so I assume that it meant, "I don’t know, so leave me alone."

Breakfast zip-zap was inevitably hardboiled eggs and dark rye bread. Zip-zap at lunch meant tuna fish and dark rye bread. Shabbos dinner was zip-zap elevated to haute cuisine: dry, roasted chicken, moistened by bowls of ketchup and mayonnaise that accompanied it.

On other nights of the week, zip-zap’s identity took on two alternating forms of beef. I could never coordinate them with legitimate cuts of meat, because Jones simply referred to them as "chunks" and "slabs." Naturally, they were accompanied by dark rye bread.

The student body was served its chunks or slabs at the dinner hour of 6:00 PM. We who attended university each evening in downtown Chicago did not return to yeshiva until 10:00. You know, of course, what was waiting: chunks or slabs wedged between slices of dark rye bread, wrapped in a plastic bag and left to ferment under the kitchen lights...


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