I'm in the Midwest now and I haven't been in New York for at least 10 years. Is it still possible to get potato knishes from street vendors?
Circa 1990, after I graduated from college, I moved to New York for a couple of years, and while my life was not one of unalloyed joy, I dearly loved the potato knishes I got from a street vendor on lower Fifth Avenue at 16th or 17th Street. They were the perfect food. They were square and straightforward...they cost 50 cents apiece (or was it 99 cents?)...they were firm and solid...they were a delightful golden brown...you could get them cut in half and smeared with American yellow mustard...you could take them back to the office and eat them, holding them in the accompanying waxed tissue paper. The perfect finger food. The ne plus ultra of gastronomy
I've always hated those fancy-dancy deli or grocery-store knishes. They're just so much mush and they have that flakey, falling-apart undulating outside pastry or crust. They're huge, they don't even have any flavor, they're over-priced, and they're self-congratulatory ("Look at me! I'm an artisanal food!") They have no reason to live, whatever food snobs like Calvin Trillin say.
Anyway, I was scared years ago by a New York Times article that said that you could no longer get street vendor knishes because of dopey new hygiene laws. Is this true? Please tell me it isn't. I want to think that even if I can't have street-vendor knishes, at least other people are lustily enjoying them at this very minute. And I like to think that there will always be a knish out there, calling to me with its siren song, imploring me to come back to New York. "I am the knish of your dreams! Come to me! Retire to New York and live out your golden years surrounded by knishes, bathed in knishes, lit by their eternal glow!" ("Here am I your special knish/Come to me, Come to me.)
(Researching the subject online I was very interested to learn of a very famous knish dealer Ruby the Knishman, and there is also a great site for foodstuffs called newyorkfirst.com. Their knishes from Yonah Schimmel look a bit too artisanal, but maybe they're good, and there are lots of other vendors for other foodstuffs.)