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An early taste

The email posed two questions: did I have any interesting Chanukah recipes to share (aside from the twin traditions of Ashkenazic latkes/potato pancakes and Sefardic sufganiyot/jelly doughnuts), and did I live in or near the Boston area? Regretfully, I replied "not really" and "not really."

But the Globe wouldn't take no for an answer. Apparently the food editor was intrigued by the notion of a blogging rabbinic student, and had been told that I was a good source for interesting Jewish recipes (maybe thanks to my posts about pumpkin challah and etrog preserves?) The writer of the piece didn't mind coming to Lanesboro to get the story. Could I come up with any food ideas worth sharing?

So I asked Ethan to commit to paper a recipe for Asian Latkes he invented some years ago, featuring sweet potatoes, red cabbage, and black sesame seeds. We made a test batch over the weekend to be sure we had the quantities and techniques straight. And today, I had the surreal experience of cooking the latkes for an audience which included a camera going click-click-click in my kitchen!

I had a lovely visit with freelance writer Clara Silverstein -- like me, a Jew born and reared in the south. (She's the author of two forthcoming cookbooks; also of White Girl: a Story of School Desegregation, an excerpt from which is available online here.) As I grated and sliced and mixed, we talked about my Chanukah plans (we usually have friends over for latkes and candle-lighting), rabbinic school, poetry, and, of course, this blog.

I had fun spinning the culinary Torah metaphor (which I first referenced in this post) during our conversation. I talked about how Torah is our central ingredient, but each of us who engages with it brings our own repertoire of tastes, spices, and techniques to the experience, and as a result it's a text with many flavors. It's a deliciously democratic metaphor, too: the professionals make beautiful food, but cooking (and text study) isn't theirs alone. It was somewhat tangential to the interview, so may not be part of the final article, but it was a neat conversation.

Anyway, it was a fascinating way to spend part of my Monday! I've given some thought, at various times, to how I might get a piece into the Globe -- but I confess I never imagined it would be through offering a recipe to the Food section...


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