My friend Marla invited me over for lunch. “Come for blintzes,” adding she had some pitted jarred cherries from the Russian store and sour cream. I happily ate the blintzes, a cheese-filled crepe popular in Jewish cooking.
Knowing Marla’s busy life, I doubted hers would be homemade, though she is an excellent cook and might have taken the challenge.
Out of a box, fried in a pan, served with a dollop of sour cream and the cherries, they were yummy. I told her how my mother used to make them from scratch, making a thin dough of eggs, flour and milk, and gently frying the pancake, filling it with a mixture of dry cottage and farmer cheeses, folding up the blintzes, wrapping the edges like a small present, then refrying the entire thing lightly.
Like so many of traditional Jewish dishes, homemade blintzes are considered in Yiddish a “potchka,” a bit of a mess, and also a big production. I often wonder how my grandmothers made all the dishes that require hours and hours of attention, all without the assistance of a food processor.
I was facing an afternoon in the kitchen myself so was happy to have a lunch invitation.
Next week is Purim; the holiday that celebrates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. King Achasverosh announces a contest to find a new bride and summons all the eligible women to the palace. He selects Esther, who lives with her Uncle Mordecai. Esther doesn’t tell the king that she’s Jewish. Meanwhile, Haman, the king’s evil advisor, convinces the king to annihilate the Jews because they don’t follow all the laws of the kingdom. He’s particularly mad at Mordecai who refused to bow down to him in public. When Esther hears of Haman’s plan, she appeals to the king on behalf of the Jewish people, putting her own life at risk. Achasverosh listens and orders Haman hanged.
The holiday includes plays and costumes, and food, particularly Hamentaschen, a triangular filled cookie that represents Haman’s three-cornered hat. I fill mine mostly with poppy seed; however anything from apple butter to chocolate can be used. I’ll freeze them until next week when I’ll bring them to friends and family.
Hamentaschen made (strawberry for the non-poppy eaters), I now have to find a costume and might try my hand at writing the Purim spiel—a retelling of the story in play form where everyone gets a part.