Barbra Streisand’s long-awaited memoir “My Name is Barbra” is simply delicious.
Figuratively, it’s delicious in the sense that the Jewish icon shares juicy anecdotes from her storied life and career, like behind-the-scenes drama with Mandy Patinkin while filming “Yentl.” It’s also literally delicious because Barbra, a woman after our own hearts, talks a great deal about Jewish food.
In the early chapters of the book, “Pulaski Street,” “Why Couldn’t I Play the Part?” and “This Night Could Change My Life,” she mentions her grandmother’s beloved Hanukkah cinnamon cookies. (Drop the recipe, Babs!) She kvetches over the disgusting potatoes, which she surmises likely came from a can, and kvells about the rich kosher cake for Shabbat at Bais Yaakov Jewish summer camp in the Catskills. She recalls the gorgeous Charlotte Russe cake at Schenley’s Jewish bakery and the freshness of the bagels and lox complemented by sour green tomato slices at Besterman’s Jewish appetizing store.
But Barbra actually has a few Jewish food thoughts that are pretty controversial.
First: Barbra Streisand doesn’t like Jewish delis! In an anecdote about her life before stardom, Babs writes, “I also liked going to the deli. Not the Jewish delis. They gave you too much meat. I couldn’t get my mouth around those sandwiches.”
She goes on, “I would go to the Gentile ones and order my favorite… a roast pork sandwich with mayonnaise on soft white bread. Delicious.”
Delicious? As a Jew, everything about that sentence is so utterly wrong.
Her second Jewish food hot take: Barbra Streisand thinks Hershey’s syrup tastes better in egg creams than Fox’s U-Bet.
When describing the food memories of her childhood, Babs talks about an Italian candy store that served Coke and egg creams. “I don’t know why they’re called egg creams. There’s no egg in them, only milk and chocolate syrup, Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, and seltzer,” she writes.
(Well, Babs, there’s no consensus on how the name egg cream came about. But there are a few theories you can read about here.)
In the audiobook version of the memoir, she continues, “Recently I tried to recreate one and before I could find U-Bet I used Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Which turns out to be even better.”
With all due respect… oof. Both the slander (I kid) against Jewish delis and the preference of Hershey’s chocolate syrup over U-Bet are fighting words, Babs. But, considering how much good Barbra Streisand has done for the Jewish community, I think I can let it slide.