I made, when I was in college, what amounted to an amazing chowish discovery. I'd grown up in New York and New Jersey eating food from kosher delis, eating Israeli food, etc.
Then I moved to Iowa to go to college at one of the more goyish schools around. Imagine my surprise when, as I wandered towards Prairie du Chien, an entire enclave of Orthodox Jews and a kosher market and restaurant.
The town's name is Postville, and it hosts a kosher turkey processing plant. The Hasidim, from Brooklyn, are a bit at odds with the established residents... payess and kippot versus seed corn caps... but there it is, in a town of 2,000 people. The story of the conflict is recorded in a book (entitled "Postville"), so I won't get into it here... it's not chowish enough.
The restaurant is Jacob's Table and the market is, I think, Jacob's Market. They're right off the main drag (IA-51/US-52) in the downtown of Postville. They serve delicious food with a Middle Eastern tang, and you can hear Hebrew and English with Brooklyn accents in the aisles. It's the only place in Iowa authorised to sell kosher meat, and the market has a takeout counter where you can get babaghanoush, couscous, Israeli salad, hummus, &c. You could get challah if you called on Thursday to order it and picked it up before 4:00 on Friday. (I'm not Jewish but challah makes the most incredible French toast.)
The first time I wandered in, I nearly wept. I walked around the displays of Osem chicken soup mix and the bottles of Sabra and the duvdevanim cake and the tubs of pareve pudding mumbling "Baruch ha-Shem... Baruch ha-Shem... I can't believe it..."
It was then and forevermore until I moved to California, a part of my month - go to Jacob's Table and have lunch, then go shopping at the market and head back to Masonville for a walk through chowish nostalgia. I'd stop on the way out for ice cream at Millstone (see, I'm not keeping kosher... but it was the taste, not that religious worthiness), which was a fitting end to the day of New Yorkishness.
121 W. Greene
Postville, IA 52162
Millstone Emporium Ice Cream Parlor
At the 4-way stop sign
Postville, IA, 52162
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