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Every dish has a story to tell. Even the ones that don’t quite make it on the menu. Harold “Groucho” Miller’s parents immigrated from Russia at the turn of the 20th century. While Miller and his family are known across South Carolina for their popular deli outfit, Groucho’s Deli, there’s one menu item that didn’t quite make the cut. While working as the emcee at a Philadelphia vaudeville theater in the 1920s, Miller befriended a Russian Jewish comedian. Here, Miller learned to make one of his favorite treats—Russian Blintzes.
Blintzes are a time-consuming and labor-intensive dish, but worth the effort. They were available for sale at Miller’s Deli on opening day in 1940. Because of the cooking process, the blintzes had to be cooked at the Millers’ home in Shandon and brought in every day. The sweet treats soon disappeared from the deli’s menu. They remained, however, a Shabbat staple in the Miller house.
Fortunately, Harold Miller’s grandson Bruce, shared his family’s favorite recipe with Kugels and Collards—the new digital repository from the Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative. Historic Columbia, in partnership with the College of Charleston’s Jewish Heritage Collection, the Jewish Community Center of Columbia and Columbia Jewish Federation, the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina and Richland Library, has established the Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative—a multi-discipline project, which will document as well as provide access and awareness to local Jewish history.
Kugels and Collards is a blog devoted to the exploration of Southern Jewish cuisine. The project seeks to preserve and share the history of Southern cooking in Columbia’s Jewish community. Each memory shared can be accessed freely on the Kugels and Collards blog. For Miller’s full Blintzes recipe, and to submit your own recipe and story, please visit kugelsandcollards.org or send an email to kugelsandcollards (at) historiccolumbia.org. Also, be sure to check out the Jewish Heritage walking tour available for free HERE.
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