Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Shana Tova
I can hardly believe another year is gone. Some closures were achieved. Some problems will never be solved. What I was hoping for last year of course did not take place. What I was not even thinking about, happened. Some good, a lot more bad, most boring, some interesting, on the whole an average year, when people usually manage to let you down but on the very few occasions that they didn't, the faded colours of your soul are refreshed, and the picture of the world is restored, with brushes loaded in brightly-coloured pigments, to rebuild your faith in the basic goodness of humanity.

So here comes another year, descending upon us like a new gaily-patterned silk scarf.

Tomorrow evening we'll be eating apple slices dipped in honey and expressing wishes for the new year. We'll drink some wine, and eat some traditional food. Holidays are about the only times I get in touch with my roots, in deed and not just in theory.

What's on the menu?

Home made round-shaped challa that I prepare with honey and amaretto liqueur. Why the amaretto? it makes me feel virtuous, for some reason. And it makes the challa more festive.

Apple pie, the apples tossed in brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.

Fish Plaki, a Sephardic dish with fish, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic.

White rice which I garnish with toasted nuts and raisins.

Spinach pie

Grilled eggplant slices.

This was standard Shabbat food at my grandmother's dinner table. Spinach and eggplants are traditional Sephardic ingredients which go back centuries. In fact, so associated were they with Jewish eating that the Inquisition listed them as "signs" for spotting secret Judaisers among the Spanish conversos. If a family seemed fond of eating eggplant and spinach dishes on Friday evenings, the housemaid or their neigbours were duty bound to report this fact to the local "all ears and all eyes" branch of the Inquisition.

And if I have the patience, I'll prepare a Tishpishti, which is a nut or almond semolina cake drenched in light syrop. This cake does not have the same provenance as the eggplant or spinach dishes. It's of a Greek or Turkish origin and was adopted by Sephardic Jews upon their arrival into the lands of the Ottoman empire in the decades that followed 1492.

Shana Tova to all.


At 9:08 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice. i've to visit your blog to know what i'm going to eat today!

random visitor

At 7:07 PM EDT, Anonymous The New Centrist said...

Shana Tova to you and yours.


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