Friday, March 14, 2008

Expressing My Ethnic Identity through Baked Goods

Next week is Purim, the Jewish holiday devoted to drunkenness, noisemakers, and cookies. No, seriously. Ok, not seriously. Purim isn't really about drunkenness, noisemakers or cookies: like most Jewish holidays, Purim is about triumph over oppression. But you celebrate it by getting drunk, making noise, and eating cookies. There are also costumes. Anyway, it's an awesome holiday. When I was a small child, one of my closest friends was Catholic, and I took her along for Purim services one year. I'm pretty sure that it gave her the entirely wrong idea about Judaism. I probably should have dragged her along to Yom Kippur services just so she'd realize that Jewish holidays aren't usually quite that much fun.

My favorite part of Purim is the cookies, although the costumes and noisemakers and drunkenness are enjoyable, too. Like many of the best things in life, hamantaschen, the aforementioned cookies, involve a yummy filling surrounded by delicious pastry. I am a thoroughly terrible Jew in most respects, but I try to make hamantaschen every year.

I have rather strong feelings about hamantaschen. Many people feel that any triangular cookie is acceptable, but they are wrong. The dough, I believe, must include orange juice, and ideally it should be made with whole wheat flour and oil, rather than butter. The filling may be prune, apricot, or poppy seed. It may not be chocolate or lemon curd or mango or whatever other new-aged abomination you think sounds tasty. Canned filling is very wrong.

(Note: the above is a joke. I am truly not fussed about how you make your Purim goodies.)

I usually make prune hamantaschen, and I'm pretty happy with my prune filling recipe. However, this year I have received a request to make poppyseed. I am now frantically searching the internet for poppyseed filling recipes. After that, there will probably be more frantic searching the city for a source of poppyseeds. I will post pictures and recipes when I am done.

Incidentally, I know that I promised to write about my very exciting trip to the new grocery store, and I have failed to do so. It turns out that the new grocery store is identical to the old grocery store. I am just not a witty or engaging enough writer to come up with anything interesting to say about a standard-issue American supermarket.

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