Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sufganiyot on Sukkoth

Today is the start of the Jewish month of Adar, so I bought in the grocery store Oznei Haman (a pastry customarily eaten on the holiday of Purim). And I probably won’t buy again until Purim (and that only if I don’t bake our own).
Now these oznei haman have been in the store, on and off, since Chanukah. And the traditional jelly doughnut, sufganiyot, of Chanukah, made their appearance even earlier than usual this year. Instead of appearing on the shelves a few days after Simchat Torah, they appeared during chol hamoed Sukkoth (a full two months plus before Channukkah).

Traditional foods have a very important place in family unity and continuance. Remembering traditional family foods (especially home-made ones), is a part of our memory of home.
Once my mother told me how, during the depression, her mom made the “most delicious” soup. Years later, she asked my grandmother, specially, to make it. She was amazed at how unappetizing it was. Hunger had made it tasty during the depression. But the love was there, felt, and remembered.
And I remember the fun of baking with my mother, trays of oatmeal cookies, of which the first two trays were “polished off” almost as soon as we pulled them out of the oven. When I got married, I asked for the recipe (along with several other favorite ones), and my mom agreed, sending several letters headed with “Mother Knows Best Cookbook”. I still have them today, 30 years later.
Today in our busy world, we often don’t have the time to cook, or bake, and make do with store-bought items. But I think that mothers (or fathers) should take time, on occasion, to bake at home. And I think that this is most important when it comes to traditional holiday foods. For these traditional foods are a part of the family’s heritage.
This brings me back to the oznei haman. How special can a holiday treat be, when you only get the store-bought ones, and you have been eating them for two months before the holiday? Will the holiday be any more of a special day, if you are sick already of eating the traditional treat? If these articles are in the store so early, that means that they are selling. A shame. I say, save the jelly doughnuts for Chanukah, and the oznei haman for Purim. Make the holiday special. Make the treat a “treat” associated with the holiday, and not just a gastronomic indulgence.

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