What is a Knish?

According to Spoon University, a knish is, simply put, a mashed potato pocket/hand pie that has become a Jewish staple. It's generally sold in a ball form, but can also appear in square form and is dough usually filled with potatoes and onion (at its very basic creation.) But over the years, bakers and chefs have tried to expand on the very basic version of the knish, and almost reinvent it in a way by adding new spins to the traditional recipe.

Channel 8 WMTW via YouTube
Channel 8 WMTW via YouTube

BenReuben's Knishery that just opened up in the Knightville neighborhood of South Portland  (145 Ocean Street) is no different. While the owners of BenReuben's are big on keeping the tradition alive through their own family recipes and more (like the name of the restaurant; the owner's name isn't Ben, it's Graeme. Graeme told Channel 8 WMTW that BenReuben is Hebrew for saying "son of Reuben"), they're also making their mark with their unique combinations featured inside their homemade knishes. Which, by the way, according to their website, highlight local Maine ingredients.

BenReuben's offers everything from savory knishes like their namesake, the BenReuben (stuffed with pastrami, sauerkraut and an option of swiss cheese) and the Everything (a take on an Everything bagel, stuffed with cream cheese, scallion, and potato, topped with Everything bagel seasoning), to sweet knishes like their Tzimmes (stuffed with sweet potato, stone fruit, and cinnamon) and the Cinna-Knish (stuffed with flavors that are in rotation and topped with citrus icing).

Knightville and surrounding SoPo neighborhoods have already fallen for BenReuben's, if the Knightville Mill Creek group's comments on Facebook are any indication, like this one from Christina Duvernay:

I made my way to BenReuben's Knishery yesterday for the first time. Knowing nothing about what a knish is, the owner walked me through the various options. I got a Tzimmes knish (with sweet potato, dates, and cinnamon) and an Everything knish (stuffed with cream cheese, scallions, and potato) along with their perfect accompanying condiments. So good!! I'll be popping in at the Knishery again soon. What a great addition to Knightville.

Other comments in the Facebook group echo similar sentiments -- not only delicious food, but probably more importantly, impeccable customer service and patience with those inexperienced in the knish world. But hopefully, thanks to BenReuben's Knishery, all of us Mainers and even those from away will learn more about food some of us may not have even heard of before, let alone tried.

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