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Enough with the schmeer. The 80's are over.

I'm dumbfounded that the schmeer is still found in many otherwise wonderful establishments with sophisticated menus. Why oh why do some wonderful chefs insist on putting repulsive skid marks on my plate?

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  1. A bagel with a schmear ain't going anywhere. And I don't mind the thing you're talking about, either. It's just sauce on the bottom instead of the top. If you don't like it, drag your food through the sauce and then flip it over. Problem solved.

    3 Replies
    1. re: small h

      Yup. I much prefer the sauce on the bottom, I can see what I am eating and it is easier to choose how much sauce I want with each bite. I don't think that a schmear or a puddle is going anywhere, no more than a drizzle or glop of sauce over the food is going anywhere. Nothing wrong with any of those things (to me) if done with purpose.

      Glop the gravy over my mashed potato...but schmear the pear brandy rosemary emulsion to the side of the plate please. I might not want it over everything.

      1. re: small h

        I agree, the only way I order a bagel is with a "schmear"..and I don't pronounce the "r" either. Also agree about the sauce on the bottom.

        1. re: monavano

          Is that why they finger-paint with my sauce?

        2. if that is the way the cook/establishment likes to present their craft, it is their choice. Only violent revolusion to this minor garnishing of plates will change it. Otherwise, it is no big deal to me, that said I could do without it.

          1. Was the schmear being done in the 80's?
            I don't mind the schmear.
            What I friggin' hate is the squiggly lines all over the food and plate...the 90's are calling and they're over it too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Beach Chick

              You're not a designer chick? I hate that stuff, except on Hostess Cup Cakes.

              1. re: treb

                Squiggly lines are a good thing on a Hostess cup cake. .but I've seen them squigged out over crème brulee to Lobster..#major fail.

                No ho ho's for you..you've lost weight and looking good!

              2. re: Beach Chick

                I thought the 80's was more " tiny bits of geometrically cut food, piled high in the middle huge plates" kind of era? Or was that the 90 's....I must be getting old, it's all a blur ;)

              3. When it comes to the bagel, I'm OK with the Schmeer! Anything else not!

                2 Replies
                1. re: treb

                  So am I, but what has dear Lord has become of the schmear? Used to be totally understood as a very light coating of cream cheese (or, less common, butter): now, every bagel behemoth is filled with at least half an inch of the stuff. I spend more time trowelling it off, no matter what I tell the folks behind the counter. Ya think they'd be happy to save on their schmears.

                  1. re: bob96

                    I don't know how far back you're reference is, but in the 60s, we were getting an inch of cream cheese between bagel halves, maybe 3/4" if we asked to go light on it.

                2. I don't mind a puddle or dollop or squiggly or little dots of flavor..

                  The schmeer on the other hand is so unappetizing to look at. If you take the dark schmeer, be it a beef or veal reductions or a thin sweep of chocolate - well if it looks like grampy had an accident in his depends, leaving skid marks, it ruins the dish for me. Whether they drag it across the plate with a spoon, or paint it with a pastry brush.

                  And the pureed schemeer of parsnips or turnips or pumpkin, when dragged across the plate tablespoon size, rather then a nice dollop, looks like regurgitated baby food on the tray of a high chair.

                  And let's not even talk about the exorcist green schmeer.

                  As far as bagels? Who doesn't love a good schmeer?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    BEWARE; the puddle, dollop, squiggle or dots that you don't mind could indicate that the plate wasn't washed after being used by a previous patron.

                  2. my issue on this (and I have many, so this will be short) screw a flavored schmear on a bagel, I'll pay extra for real lox, not flavored spread and have been known to go somewhere else to p/u taramasalata (works in a fishy pinch).

                    a dribble, dot and dab around an entree makes me want to ask for more and question the chef's confidence. yes your version of chimichurri or whatever reduction was excellent on my steak tartare, just wanted maybe a spoon more rather than the few meager drips that decorated the plate rim.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: hill food

                      the chef may not want to hide or overpower the flavor of the main component of the dish, hence his/her confidence in the main component that it only needs a little dab of said sauce

                      1. re: cgarner

                        and I'm cool with that except when it looks more like a coupla accidental drips. what was that candy that came on a roll of paper and was just sugar dots about 3/8" or a centimeter? "yes 4 of those and be sure the staff is trained to place the dish so the dots correspond to the cardinal points of the compass or I. am. out. of. here. capisce?"

                        1. re: hill food

                          Hahahaha, I get it!

                          you're right

                    2. Pooh pooh. Squiggle of sauce under something is fine with me – I agree that it allows me to pick how much of it to use. As for the top squiggles, if I can take delight in top-squiggling Pico Pica over the sour cream atop my chile-relleno omelet (and I do, even when I'm the only audience) then I'm not gonna begrudge anyone else's doing it. Dopey little dots of sauce? Not "outdated," just dumb.

                      The '80s are over, my sweet asterisk. The '40s aren't over yet! When I die, maybe …

                      1. Hasn't "schmeer" (also known as "spread") always been part of US sandwich culture, think: peanutbutter, jelly, butter, mayo, mustard, miracle whip, etc...

                        1. You do realize that the word "schmear" is Yiddish, don't you?

                          17 Replies
                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                I'm widely known as a Mexican Jew, a compliment, even though I am a dull Danish protestant from Connecticut.
                                I had a great experience attending a largely Jewish university, and my years living in Mexico.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  since you, veggo and I grew up in the same metro area and went to the same university (at slightly different times) we have the same understanding of foods and their nomenclature.
                                  Veggo may have been born a dull Danish Protestant, but growing up in greater New Haven (later living in Mexico and Florida) he has had thousands more ethnic meals than either Danish or boring 'Protestant' meals.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Thanks, bagel. Undoubtedly true!

                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                              So what's the Yiddish for pizza, burrito, or lettuce?

                                1. re: Wawsanham

                                  the first two>chazzerai


                                2. re: PotatoHouse

                                  Well as the town gentile and shabbat goy - yeah I know that the Yiddites use the word schmear. The wizard of oz, greenpeace, hawaii, LBGT and the leprechaun have also made claims on the rainbow. Did you have a point?

                                  1. re: Bellachefa

                                    The point is that you are acting like it is a word invented in the 80s, when it has been around a lot longer.

                                    1. re: PotatoHouse

                                      How you made that giant misinterpretation of a thread about plating food with schmeers of sauce, purees by either spoon or pastry brush is inconceivable to me.

                                      It really has nothing to do with a schmear of something with your lox and bagels. On that subject I like a nice gentle hand of a schmear, which I think I've already stated.

                                  2. re: PotatoHouse

                                    I certainly do, and it literally means to cover quickly and without any particular skill.

                                    An unskilled painter is a schmearer
                                    A skilled painter is an artiste.

                                    A landlord sends schmearers in to paint the tenant's apartment. He sends an artiste to his own home to satisfy Mrs. Landlord.

                                    This bagelman NEVER has his bagel with a schmear, I detest cream cheese.

                                    Then again this week no bagels, matzo

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      I've learned that a schmear doesn't have to be cream cheese. Chopped liver (pate), egg/tuna salad and PB can also be considered schmears. IOW, anything spreadable.

                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                        anything that can be easily applied with a swipe of a spatula, knife or trowel


                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                          Yes, everything you said can be a "schmear" including miracle whip sandwich dressing since it's just another way of saying "spread" or "smeer (if you don't want it to sound so nice)."

                                    2. I like the sauce on the side or the bottom well enough, but in the more...."artistic" restaurants, there is never enough of it to have some on every bite.

                                      1. I find nothing repulsive about schmeers/schmears at all, whether on my bagel (fresh bagels are never untoasted, please) or my plate. As for calling them skid marks, I don't agree about that description either, but, hey, whatever you want to call them is fine with me. I guess I'm glad we don't dine together.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                          Sheesh, I meant to say "fresh bagels are never TOASTED." I must have been cross-eyed when I typed that first response.

                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                            never say never...................

                                            Mr. B here, toasts every bagel I eat, even if it has just come out of the oven and is piping hot. I love crunch

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              Wouldn't you agree a proper bagel has a nice "crunch" when it comes right out of the oven, toasted or not? (not trying to counter your personal preference, just asking if you agree the sign of a good bagel is a firm crunchy skin)

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                The outside of the bagel must have a nice crunch. Soft or mushy is not a bagel, just a round roll with a center hole that probably wasn't boiled before baking (steaming is the easy way out wioth unsatisfactory results).

                                                That said, I like my cut surface of the bagel to have a nice crunch when I spread my butter or margarine (I don't eat cream cheese).

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  I hate to admit this but I frequently get the "bagels" at Dunkin Donuts which really are an abomination to bagels everywhere. Recently they have a new bagel, jalapeno/cheddar which is an awesome combination. I imagined that the jalapeno's and cheddar would be baked into the bagel..............no instead it was all melted on top, like a pizza without sauce. It was horrible and the "bagel" itself was even more cake-ish than their normal soft skinned bagels. It was truly is stretch calling this latest creation on their behalf a bagel.

                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                    Oy vey. Too many goys in the DD test kitchen....:)

                                              2. re: bagelman01

                                                gone are the days of the bagel.... when a plain bagel was 'smooshed' between the hands of the schmearer to crack that crunchy crispy boiled exterior and sliced open to let out some steam from the dense chewy interior to apply a healthy dose of butter... or a schmear of cream cheese, a few slices of lox and a little red onion and a thin slice or two of ripe tomato...

                                                real NY bagels with seeds all around, not just the top...

                                                now we get light fluffy bread like substance in a doughnut shape...

                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                  Not only seeds all around, but a rye bagel made from rye flour, not a plain white bagel with caraway seeds on top. In fact a pumpernickel bagel should have caraway seeds mixed in the dough.
                                                  I started making bagels in a small shop in New Haven in the 60s when the dough was dumped on the table and we cut strips and wrapped them around our hands to shape and then rolled our hands back and forth the table front to rear and back to form the the nice even shape.

                                                  In those days, one bought fresh bagels at the bagel bakery and they didn't make sandwiches. An appetizing store would make the sandwiches in the manner you describe. We'd deliver to the neighborhood appetizing stores and delis many times a day (or they'd come get them hot as they ran short), so the customers always got bagels that were less than 3 hours old.

                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                    ahhh, yes.

                                                    I recall a couple of bagel shops that were within walking distance of my home - south shore Long Island.

                                                    the bagels were fresh and hot... crusty and dense and chewy. seeds all around. I am not a fan of caraway, in any way, but agree with your description. (seedless rye also once meant no powdered caraway in the dough either...)

                                                    later the bagel shops in town all started offering all kinds of appetizing themselves

                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                      The seeded rye always had flour on the bottom (seeded had cornmeal) so the salesgirls in the bakery knew which rye it was when pulling it from the shelf.

                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                      anybody have a 'way-back' machine not being used?

                                                    3. re: Gastronomos

                                                      When I make bagels, I ALWAYS put seeds/salt on the bottoms!

                                              3. This all went horribly wrong all of a sudden, and we've removed a large number of posts. If people want to talk about schmears -- ideally schmears of sauce on plates at fancy restaurants since that's what the OP was about, less ideally of schmears on bagels since that's just a tangent -- that would be fine, but please let's not get into taking other hounds to task for their language or calling each other racists.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                  That's a shame. There was some good meeting at the middle middle ground evolving.

                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                    Thanks for getting the thread back on track- it's been a good one otherwise.

                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                      A few of mine that came from the heart were swept away.

                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        did bagalguy get my gentile dream hot dog idea? will he boil and bake me a bagel? will he steal my idea or acknowledge its brilliance and make me a partner and we'll make millions together?

                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                          If I can say so, bagelman is diligently tending to an infirm mother.

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            well then, he can tell her he invented my hot dog roll idea

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              bagelman, my sympathy. Been there, done that. It consumes every day.

                                                            2. re: Bellachefa

                                                              sorry, your idea was removed by CH
                                                              Hope you ead my full response before it was yanked. even though it did not violate any Ch rules and discussed the tangent of schmear

                                                              so, I must assume your idea was briulliant whether or not it was a gentile dream. I didn't see it so can't steal it. At this point any baking I do is for the family. I left the bakery world behind in 1978 and have a very private Trust law practice, whioch gives me lots of time to cook and bake

                                                              1. re: bagelman01


                                                                This is top secret.

                                                                this gentile has always dreamed of finding a nice jewish boy with authentic bakery skills to partner with and to share my brilliant idea with making a killing dollar by dollar, corner to corner. Dissapointed you are out of the family business. ready? seeded jewish rye hot dog rolls, with a schmear of mustard, a kosher dog, and a dollop of sauerkraut. Is that not brilliant? shhhhhhhh

                                                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                  It sounds delicious (unfortunately I am allergic to Mustard, and have my dog just with kraut).

                                                                  I think you might have resistance to a seeded rye hot dog bun, as most expect their dirty water hit dig on a mushy white bun that has sat in the steamer.

                                                                  I do bake seeded rye long rolls that we use for knockworst off the bbq grill in the summer. The traditional hiot dog rolls are too small and don't stand up to the kraut juice, and these definitely taste better with a cold beer

                                                                  Now if we could only find really good and tasty kosher Hot Dogs (like I grew up eating). The modern dogs are greatly lacking in taste. I never bought packaged dogs growing up, only bulk from the deli. The actual spicing was different. Now that Hebrew National is not longer an independent company in Maspeth, NY, but part of ConAgra in the midwest, the product has lost its 'Jewish' taste. Shofar is gone. Best Kosher is gone. Morrison and Schiff, Isaac Gellis.....and on and on, gone. A&H from New York is probably the best old time tasting dog readily available, BUT the dogs from Roumanian in Chicago are great.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    oh my, when I saw that picture it was love at first sight! do you keep kosher, or can I just show up at the bbq this summer with a nice dish?