Growing up in Nebraska, I only knew the word "appetizing" as a adjective.

Not until I converted to Judaism and married a nice Jewish girl from Flushing, Queens, did I learn that "appetizing" is a noun (and that an angel dies when a Jew puts mayo on a deli sandwich). According to my wife and other New York Jews, "appetizing" means "the things you eat with bagels," e.g. lox, whitefish, sable, cream cheese, and more. You buy these at an Appetizing store.

I've looked in dictionaries, but none say that appetizing is a noun. Does this mean gentiles or "out-of-towners" (generally non-New Yorkers) use "appetizing" only as an adjective and never as a noun?

  • @danbron you deleted some of the flavor (pun intended) I wanted in the question. I'll roll back some when I get to a PC - I'm limite with a hand-held. Aug 12, 2014 at 1:54
  • No problem. But I'd suggest leaving out the questions of permissibility -- unless you like your bagels really well toasted.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 12, 2014 at 1:56
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    Bagels are considered dairy (don't ask why), and therefore can't be eaten with meat, but fish and other dairy foods are OK. If there's a special name in the Jewish community for a store that sells Kosher dairy food, I wouldn't be surprised. There are already separate meat and dairy restaurants and delicatessens. I'd never hear that word for it, but what do I know? Aug 12, 2014 at 2:40
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    @JohnLawler I'm an orthodox Jew, and my wife was a kosher inspector for a rabbinic organization. Bagels are not considered dairy, nor may they be made with dairy ingredients and be given kosher certification (no bread can). Aug 12, 2014 at 6:36
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    My mistake for considering them kosher, then. What I know is that if I order a pastrami sandwich on a bagel in a kosher restaurant, I'm told "No dairy" and hafta order it on different bread. This may be local to the restaurant, or the city, or it may be a whim, or it may be widespread; I never asked. I never thought bagels were made with milk, but over a couple of millennia and changing menus and technologies, the original laws have had to be adapted to a lot of circumstances, and there is often pilpul involved. My guess is that bagels are firmly associated with creamcheese in the culture. Aug 12, 2014 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


From Gothamist:

Of all of the many, many foods representative of New York City, perhaps none have remained so deeply tied to tradition than appetizings. Not appetizers, mind you—appetizings (noun), from an appetizing shop—things like smoked salmon, cream cheese spreads, and salads; or, as Wikipedia puts it, "the foods one eats with bagels. They arrived in New York with the huge wave of Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century, and owe their strange name to a kosher dietary law stating that meat and dairy can't be eaten or sold together. As a result, two different types of food stores cropped up: delicatessens (delis), which serve pickled, cured and smoked meats, and appetizings (appys), which handled the fish and dairy goods.

From NPR:

A century ago, the Lower East Side was packed with "appetizing" shops, where merchants would compete to satisfy the noshing needs of the neighborhood's Jewish clientele: pickled herring, smoked whitefish, sable and salmon, bagels and bialys, along with dried fruit, chocolate and candy. ...Joel Russ immigrated to New York from what's now southeastern Poland and opened the store in 1914. Russ didn't have any sons — but he did have three daughters. And Federman says he put them to work behind the counter. Down here, there were 20, 30 appetizing stores. - Russ & Daughters Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built

Apparently, there are only a few Appetizing stores left in New York, but

despite the perception that appetizing shops are all historic relics, there is a small market opening up for a new wave of next-generation appys.

Is it a word gentiles use? I doubt it if my experience as a Gentile is representative.

However, Niki Russ states

Appetizing is not just a Jewish thing anymore. It's become a quintessential New York food.

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