HANGRY IN 5779
With the official start of autumn nipping at my kitchen clogs, the feasting and abbreviated famine associated with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur has concluded. Regardless of how you approach a day of atonement, the truth is fasting goes ever so s-l-o-w-l-y. A grumbling stomach and mild headache can practically drown out an entire day’s worth of reflection. Pining for breakfast and daydreaming about a sumptuous lunch is enormously distracting. As the day unfolds, minute by ravenous minute, all you can think about is what you will eat the moment the sun sinks into the sky.
Prior to September 1983, the High Holidays boasted desserts reliably sticky with honey and overly stuffed with apples. When The New York Times published a recipe from Marian Burros in the fall of 1983, the focus shifted from apples and honey to plums. The plum torte featured in the food section was sleek, deeply magenta, a little bit sassy and just spicy enough. The recipe heralded practically every autumn between 1983 and 1995. It is still offered online for those of us who misplaced our original, well-worn clipping.
While revisiting the plum torte recipe this week, I was assaulted by a social curation website, the one that loves to share images and ideas in an organized fashion. According to the giant bulletin board website, had I but looked up from the loaf pans and tube pans crowding my workspace last week, I would have learned what’s cookin’ in the year 5779. Good Lord; it appears I’m woefully out of the High Holiday loop.
The well-worn Pyrex dishes that our grandmothers filled with Lokshen Kugel (Noodle Pudding,) have been nudged out of the way by Staub Ceramic Stoneware filled with hand-made noodles and dairy free cheese. Over-sized casseroles edged in crispy shreds of potatoes have moved on, taking their box graters with them. Spiralized zucchini is all the rage, tossed with gluten-free matzoh meal and egg whites, all served up in cast iron skillets. As for the Sun-Maid Raisin Girl in the classic red box, she’s been replaced by an eight ounce package of dried cherries from Trader Joe’s.
The more I scanned, the less I recognized. Momentarily blinded by a unicorn-inspired challah, it seemed harmless to click on ‘apples and honey.’ Staring back at me were screaming red apples fashioned out of Rice Krispie treats. Just before exiting the screen, I stumbled upon a video clip suggesting the sweetest way to break a Yom Kippur fast was with a pumpkin spice Babka. Turning away, I tried to envision my grandmother’s reaction to Pinterest. Reaching into the sleeve of her belted shirtwaist dress, securing a monogrammed handkerchief, she would have dabbed her eyes in disbelief.
Post-dinner last Tuesday and pre-sundown last Wednesday allowed me all the time in the world to think about making 5779 a better year. It always seems fitting to look back before looking ahead, ultimately offering a few heartfelt apologies.
Please forgive the wayward lemon seed and the smidgen of apple peel that found its way into your double crust pie; I try to be so careful. For the meringue that wept and the pie that puddled, my regrets. For the coconut macaroons that were a little too toasty, and the Hamantaschen that were beautifully triangular pre-oven yet ended up more oval post-oven, my hopes were high. For the pies that lingered too long at 375 degrees and those that needed a little more time at 375 degrees, I’m sorry, truly I am. As a humble gesture, please take a look at a non-traditional dessert offering that pairs beautifully with plums and is equally acceptable for breakfast, because the last thing you want to be is hangry.
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