The Key to Old World Borscht.
In a far corner of Nach Waxman's handsome, prewar apartment living room sits a two-gallon ceramic crock perched over three stout bricks. To the casual observer, the tableau might go entirely unnoticed or get written off as a bit of eccentric decor. But inside the unassuming vessel, glazed in muted browns and grays, a whole world is unfolding.
As founding partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, a bookstore he opened in 1983 focusing exclusively on food- and drink-related tomes, Waxman, 82, has become something of a legend within culinary and publishing circles. (His limitless curiosity about food history and encyclopedic knowledge of rare cookbooks haven't hurt either.) He is a longtime fixture of New York City's Upper West Sidehe and his wife moved into their apartment in 1968 when rent was $226, raised their kids, and bought when the building went coop in 1985. Waxman is also a devoted maker and consumer of russel, the tangy, fermented beet brine traditionally used by Eastern European Jews to flavor borscht.
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