Purim has gotten lost in the pre-St. Patrick’s Day cookie frenzy. The Hamantaschen have nudged their way onto the counter, vying for space next to plaid shamrocks and sugared beer mugs. This week the retail bakery has felt like the weather, a wintry mix of challenges. Two customer interactions stand out above the rest. In first place was the gentleman wishing to order a cake, specifically a 10” cake. He wanted to know how large the 10” cake would be. In second place, and my personal favorite, was a phone conversation I had with Young Mother, concerned about the ingredients in the Hamantaschen. The ingredients were read in excruciating detail, including the label from the jar of thick apricot preserves. Nary an ingredient was cause for alarm yet Young Mother was determined to be alarmed. We discussed ‘shared equipment’ and residual flour dust dangling in the air. She raised additional concerns, asked once again for the list and the reading of the jam jar. Isn’t it enough that I can manipulate 3½” circles into triangles?
At 2 pm on Thursday, I watched in horror as the Sysco delivery truck unsuccessfully navigated the icy intersection at the corner of Baker Street and Maplewood Avenue. Three snow covered police officers, their patrol cars ablaze with flashing lights, served as truck traffic controllers. Arms waving and halting, they attempted to guide poor Sysco-man as he struggled to align his tires with the road. My Sorel boots were having their own problems, skidding across a street more skating rink than pavement. Limbo-ing beneath a tree limb heavy with snow, I reasoned, it could always be worse. It could be Boston.
If I had my druthers, my Purim Hamantaschen would come from Kupel’s Bakery in Boston. Kupel’s offers the triangular cookies year round, in assorted flavors. Available in both small and large, they are deliciously rich and crumbly, sweet with jam and crunchy with poppy seeds. Not only are the baked goods worth traveling the NJ Turnpike to the Mass Pike, I’ve yet to hear a customer demand a list of ingredients from the affable crew behind the counter. And because it’s a Kosher bakery, Hamantaschen never compete for space with shamrocks.