Too Much Schmaltz in the Knaidlach?

In my family there was never a doubt as to who made the best knaidlach (English translation, matzah balls.) As long as my bubbie was alive, there was no contest. Each time she served it, someone (we took turns) said, "It’s a miracle how they don’t fly right out of the bowl, they’re so light!" And everyone would nod and mumble agreement while Bubbie invariably would respond, "They’re not as good as last time. Too much schmaltz maybe." And each person would assure her that they were the absolute best she had ever made. If, heaven forbid, someone didn’t say something, she would quickly jump on the offender. "See? Mendel agrees with me." Mendel of course, the one who loved to eat, was usually too busy enjoying his soup to play the game. His response was, "No. No, Bubbie. They’re so good, I’ll take two more." This made her very happy as did all who took seconds. Even my little sister who had a small appetite was afraid to incur Bubbie’s wrath and took another.

Before Bubbie died, she told us that the secret of light and fluffy knaidlach was to separate the egg whites from the yolks and beat both for a long, long time. I, being a person who always looks for shortcuts, believed that throwing it all together would work just as well. Although the end result did not resemble Bubbie’s matzah balls in important ways, my family, having never tasted hers, accepted mine without question. Unfortunately, the deception was over the first time they ate my sister’s knaidlach. She, who followed Bubbie’s recipe exactly, beamed when one of my kids said, "Wow, Tante, how come they’re so much lighter than Mom’s?" "Dunno, she replied, smiling at me. "Maybe she uses too much schmaltz."

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