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Full Circle

Perel Grossman

Four meals. Four more meals. Four meals bearing absolutely no resemblance to the four from the first days. And some guests are repeat customers

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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JUST ONE It has always been my fantasy to have one male relative¬— no matter how distantly related¬— who dances and sings with gusto on Simchas Torah. You know the type: belts out song after song, not necessarily on key. Flies high as he horahs to the right, twirling and leaping and generally making a huge spectacle of himself. (Sigh.) If only… (Illustrations: Vivi Keilson)

"O f course you can come back for the second days!” I exclaim, trying to keep my voice from quavering. “You know how much I’d love to watch the kids dancing with the Torah!”

The phone conversation abruptly ends when a child grabs the phone from his mommy and starts pressing buttons, temporarily deafening me in one ear.

I spoon two heaps of dark roast coffee into a huge mug emblazoned with the word GULP, add sweetener, hot water, and milk, and plop down into a kitchen chair, ready to tally up the guests for the second days of Succos: three of the girls and their husbands, two handfuls of lively juvenile characters, Aunt Tzaitel and her aide Svetlana, plus our old friend Roger from Syracuse.

Pushing aside thoughts of linen and where everyone is going to sleep, I focus on the image of all of us gathered around one big table — — a warm circle of family and friends enjoying each other’s company. Soon, though, my mind wanders to food. (It always does.) Four meals. Four more meals. Four meals bearing absolutely no resemblance to the four from the first days. Some of these guests are repeat customers. And I have a reputation to uphold.

The idea of starting to cook again makes me want to declare a taanis. I’m out of ideas! I’ve already done my old favorites, even tried a couple fancy numbers from Family First. I need some fresh, easy recipes — — fast!

Hmm, I’m creative… I’ll create some new dishes from recycled material — — yeish miyeish. Here we go:

Falshe Fish de la Festivale

1 roll cooked gefilte fish, frozen

1 side cooked salmon, frozen

1 pan baked flounder, frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Defrost all items on the counter. (It never really defrosts in the fridge, and y’all know it!) Recite whichever kapitel you know by heart to protect the health of all who partake of this dish.

Throw each ingredient, separately, into food processor and puree. Pour each ingredient into greased pan. Bake till ready. (Duh.)

364 days ‘til next Simchas Torah! All grandchildren are invited this Sunday for dance tryouts…

Chalushis Chaluptches

1 baked meatloaf, frozen

pre-checked, cleaned, totally limp cabbage leaves

every red-colored sauce in your fridge

Defrost meatloaf. Mash with fork or hammer. Form into oval lumps and wrap with cabbage. Fill pot with water and red sauces (e.g., ketchup, tomato sauce, hot sauce, salsa, and anything ruddy that smells vaguely familiar but is not immediately identifiable.)

Sprinkle spices into water as follows:

Polish Jews: Salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. (We don’t know from fancy zachen.)

Hungarian Jews: all of the above plus sugar

British Jews: Polish Jewish spices plus Earl Grey tea leaves steeped in boiling water. Strain and add to pot.

Russian Jews: Polish Jewish spices plus vodka.

American Jews who own more than three cookbooks: Throw in a pinch of every spice gathering dust in your cabinet, other than cinnamon.

Eh, why not? Add cinnamon too.

Boil cabbage packets in spiced water until soft and aromatic or until one explodes, blowing the lid off your pot and scaring you silly.

Not that this ever happened to me.

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