I thought about appetizing as I ate my bagel with smoked salmon last Sunday. The bagel was from The Bagel Hole in Park Slope, one of the only places where you can still get a classic, smallish, chewy New York bagel, not one of those humongous, bready things that pass for bagels these days, rolls in bagels' clothing. The smoked salmon was not classic, though. It was designer smoked salmon: Charlie Trotter's citrus-cured, and it was excellent.
When I was a kid I used to go out every Sunday morning to pick up bagels and lox and cream cheese for our Sunday breakfast. The local appetizing store was appropriately named The Bagel 'N' Lox. Sometimes I'd also pick up some fancy cookies from the Hungarian Bakery next door. And I also picked up the Sunday Times, which to an eight- or ten-year-old seemed as heavy as an anvil.
When I lived in the East Village, in the eighties, I frequented M. Schacht, on Second Avenue, for my appetizing. I'd occasionally go down to Russ & Daughters, on Houston Street, which is still there, but Schacht was closer. One time I asked the counter guy for some lox and he asked me if I really wanted lox, and not Nova, and did I know the difference? Did I know the difference? If you prick me do I not bleed? I don't even know how easy it is to find true lox these days, though I'm sure Russ & Daughters and probably Zabar's carry it. Lox (sometimes called belly lox) is salt-brine-cured salmon, as opposed to Nova, or Nova Scotia, or Novy, which is cold-smoked. Lox is much saltier than Novy, and a little goes a long way, especially if you're buying for one.
One day several months later I went into Schacht and asked the same guy for an eighth of a pound of lox. This time he didn't ask me if I knew what lox was. This time he said, "An eighth of lox! Are you havin' a party?"