The only reliable season in Israel is summer. Like an annoying relative, it arrives too early and invariably overstays its welcome. Israeli winter, on the other hand, plays it hard to get – showing up for a few days and then vanishing without a trace. Here I am, writing this post with December almost upon us and believe it or not, I‘m wearing a sleeveless dress. I can almost hear the envious sighs of my North American friends. I know I shouldn't be complaining – the weather is warm, sunny, perfect. But, frankly, I am fed up with warm, sunny and perfect. I miss the clouds and air so cool you can almost drink it and most of all I miss the rain. Rain that will fill up our depleted Sea of Galilee (a sorry sight after 5 straight years of drought) and color the grass green again. I want to wear a sweater and my lovely new boots, and I want to cook a wintry stew – one you eat with a spoon and a thick slab of bread.
A chef friend of mine once said ‘In Israel one looks for winter not in the sky but at the greengrocer's,’ So true! Winter is the best season for vegetables and the markets are bursting with goodies – fragrant fennel, sugar-sweet beets, freshly picked carrots, and – my personal favorites – leafy greens. I always end up buying more than I planned and cooking up a storm with all the bounty.
I’ll be making these three recipes, all based on seasonal produce, for our next Shabbat meal - come rain or shine.
Looking forward to receiving your comments, requests and cooking notes!
The Treasure Box Preserving Jewish Ethnic Cuisine
Gondi (Gondy) What can be considered more of a Jewish culinary icon than chicken soup with matzo balls? Also known as Jewish penicillin, this soul-warming dish is synonymous with Ashkenazi cooking. Interestingly, a very similar looking dish can be found in Jewish Persian cuisine. It is called gondi (or gondy) and like its Ashkenazi counterpart it is served on Friday nights. While the gondi dumplings look deceivingly like oversized matzo balls, one bite will reveal the difference. Gondi are made from chickpea flour, filled with minced meat and flavored with pepper, cardamom and turmeric. This recipe by Claudia Roden is from The Book of Jewish Food, a must-read for anyone interested in Jewish food culture. Gondi
This Treasure Box is yours. Feel free to contribute your family recipes and stories. You are also welcome to inquire about nostalgic dishes you remember from childhood or have heard about from family members, and I will try to find a recipe for you. Contact me