Food · History · Judaism · Tel Aviv

Hanukkah, a festival of lights

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Every night, we light the candles of the Hanukiah to commemorate and celebrate the miracle of Light: the Jews only had enough oil to create light for one night, but the miracle made it last for 8 days…

 photo 2-1Jewish family spirit, Tel Aviv December 2012 – photo by Sharon Erde www.twitter.com/sharonerde

Being a secular Jew doesn’t mean I don’t honor values and follow rituals of the Jewish holidays. Families always gather around a big food table.  Family & food. Celebrating the miracle of oil also means eating fried food. While some of us yearn for Sufganyot (they’re like doughnuts and come in various shapes, colors and with many different fillings); some rather eat Latkes (Yiddish word) or Levivot (Hebrew word) which are a kind of potato pancake.  Here’s my favorite recipe for you to try at home – thank you Ameloush and thank you Doda Anny from Belgium…

Ingredients:photo 1

  • 5 potatoes (big red ones preferably)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • salt, pepper and white pepper
  • canola oil to fry in

Preparation:

1. Heat +/- 1 to 2 cm of canola oil until boiling and ready to fry
2. Meanwhile, start peeling and grating the potatoes (feel your muscles?)
3. With your hands, squeeze out all the water from the potatoes (very important!)
4. Add the shredded onion, eggs, flour, salt&pepper and mix with a spoon or  photo 2with your hands
5. Make flat round shapes with your hand/spoon and fry till golden brown 6.Before serving, make sure you use a lot of paper roll to remove as much oil as possible.
7. Bete’avon, you can eat your latkes with sugar, mustard or whatever other weird family ritual you have.

Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song, part. 1; there’s also part 2 & 3 if you want more…

Lyrics:

“Put on your Yamakkah, here comes Hanukkah… so much fun-Hakka to celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the festival of lights… instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights. When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here’s a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me.

David Lee Roth lights the Menorah, So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah. Guess who eats together at the Carnegie deli, Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli. Paul Newman’s half Jewish; Goldie Hawn’ss half too, Put them together–what a fine lookin’ Jew. You don’t need deck the halls or jingle bell rock, cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock-both Jewish!

Put on your Yamakkah, it’s time for Hanukkah… The owner of the Seattle Super Sonic-ahs celebrates Hanukkah. O.j. Simpson- not a Jew… But guess who is…hall of famer Rod Carew-he converted! We got Ann Landers and her sister dear Abby, Harrison fords a quarter Jewish-not too shabby! Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is, Well, he’s not, but guess who is: all three Stooges.

So many Jews are in show business… Tom cruise isn’t,but I heard his agent is. Tell your friend veronica, it’s time you celebrate Hanukkah…I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah. So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah… If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah! Happy Hanukkah!”

Happy Hanukkah…may the light shine… in and around you….

Antwerp · Food

Israeli food night in Belgium

To celebrate Marilyn’s visit to her hometown Antwerp, we decided to make a Middle-Eastern dinner for our friends and family.

An ideal dip for pita bread: a big plate of Hummus and green Tehina, hard boiled eggs, grilled pine nuts with some cumin and sweet paprika powder. Hummus is a food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas. Tehina is a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds.

This is the home made “Shakshuka” and probably Israel’s most famous dish after Falafel and Hummus. Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Sometimes with garlic. You can spice it up with some chili peppers. Most Israelis eat it for breakfast with a salad. Contemporary Israeli restaurants play with it and often offer a Green Shakshuka (with spinach, chard, aubergines and feta cheese). This dish knows many stories, recipes and myths. I like this description and recipe by “the Shiksa in the Kitchen” website if you want to try it at home.

I realize that even when describing food it’s hard to avoid politics: this is a chopped “Arab Salad”. The basic recipe includes tomato, cucumber and onion. Often mixed with parsley and combined with the juice of freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil, unlike many Western salads, Arabic salad contains no lettuce. In summer we add fresh mint leaves.

Another important spice in Mediterranean cuisine is called Za’atar. It’s a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs.

And of course: Falafel. Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is usually served in a pita, topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tehina-based sauces. You can make them yourself or buy them at your local supermarket

בתאבון – Beteavon – Bon appétit – Smakelijk

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