The names "Bagel Aristocracy," "Sour Cream Sierras," and "Borscht Belt" did not just happen by chance. Jewish entertainers and comedians like Al Jolson, Fannie Brice, Paul Whiteman, George Jessel, and Sophie Tucker parodied every aspect of Jewish life in the mountains, especially the food. Entertainers at the hotels continued the jokes, and newspaper columnists sharpened their pencils with new ways to characterize the Catskill resorts.
Copious amounts of food, not necessarily borscht, have always been central to life at the Catskill resorts. To escape the heat and the "workers' disease," tuberculosis, Jews came to the Catskills for fresh air and fresh food at kosher boardinghouses. For about sixty dollars a season a whole family could rent a bedroom in a large house with cooking and food-storage privileges.
Later, as the Jews moved out of the Lower East Side, the Catskill resorts became playgrounds for the privileged. Grossinger's, the most famous, began with nine boarders in a seven-room boardinghouse on one hundred acres of rock-strewn land. The resort eventually attracted thousands of Jews and non-Jews to its kosher kitchen with all-you-can-eat matzah balls, gefilte fish, and lox.
Kutschers Hotel and Resort
All roads lead to the Catskills