It was one of those days where you’d be better off staying inside and having a nice hot cup of tea. It rained. It stopped. It rained some more. The wind blew hard. Instead of viewing the weather from the couch like most reasonable people, I decided to go jogging around the track with my friend Christine. Christine was stressed. For 16 years Christine had been married to Cam, her Jewish husband. And, for the first time in all those years, her mother-in-law had agreed to come to her house to celebrate a Jewish holiday.
Granted, it was Hanukkah . I didn’t mention to Christine that Hanukkah (חנוכה) had started as a very minor holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the Second Century BCE. To remember the fact that oil that should have only lasted one day stretched for eight days, we light the candles on the menorah each night.
I agreed that it was nice of her mother-in-law to relent and give up hosting one of the Jewish holidays. The only problem? Christine (she herself admitted) couldn’t cook to save her life.
“So,” I huffed. “What do you plan to serve?”
Wrong question. Christine sprinted on ahead on sheer adrenaline alone. I caught up with her eventually and repeated my question.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t have a clue. I’ve looked through books and the only thing I see is latkes . I can’t just serve potato pancakes.”
She looked at me hopefully. “Can I?”
A gust of wind blew my wet hair right into my face. It gave me a minute to come up with a tactful answer. “Well, usually you would serve latkes and then maybe a few other things. Maybe some applesauce and some sour cream.”
“Oh, right, she usually does have that stuff. Okay, what else?”
“I’m scared of the desserts,” Christine said. We stopped running. Christine was gasping for breath, either from running or from contemplating Jewish desserts.
I told her there was nothing to be afraid of. There was rugelach, there were blue-and-white cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, blue-and-white Jordan almonds, there was chocolate babka and there was dark chocolate.
“There’s just one problem,” Christine said. “Do you have any spray that makes it smell like I baked it?”
Hmmm…that’s one for R & D.
Best wishes for good weather and good friends,