The culinary adventures and diversions of a Shamanic sybarite.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
A HULVAH WEEKEND! (And extrordinarily happy!)
OK! Doing the Mesopotamian Happy Dance. I. Found. Halvah. This is a major thing for me! I have been jonesing for some for MONTHS. Growing up Cashew, we ate lots of things. Cashew means Mom's side of the family was Catholic and Dad's side of the family was Jewish. Cashews. We were raised Catholic, but it was a bit odd at times. I came home from First Communion and had gefilte fish. With a big stripe of purple horseradish. Just not quite right somehow. But, oh, so good. (Followed by matzoh ball soup and one of Grandma's roast lamb dishes.) We were always a little confused about things growing up, I guess. Just a little twisted and a lot irreverant.
Remember those yarn paintings on burlap we used to do in the wee grade school days? Back when you could still say Christmas in school? We did yarn pictures for Christmas. My mother still has it. Mine was a red burlap background that said, "NOEL". With a lovely menorah as the center of the picture. Dad always calling the Christmas tree the Channakuh bush didn't help. (But then...knowing Dad...we still call the plant "Wandering Jew" what my Dad called it once when he could not remember the name. "Wandering Jew" will forever, in our family, be "Creeping Jesus".) Dad would snicker in church as mom sat horrified hoping no one in the pews around us could hear my sister and I singing, "Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey, Maria".
So, as I said, a bit odd, but great fun. And the food. Grandma's matzoh ball soup. Grandma's ruggelach or mandel bread. Sundays with a bagel, a smear, a THIN slice of onion and tomato, some nova lox. (Although, I still prefer belly lox, but a kid didn't get to voice an opinion on that. often. LOL) Such GOOD food! When Grandma died, all the relatives were there arguing and bickering who got this or that antique or painting. I went into the kitchen, quietly grabbed the recipe boxes and slipped out to my car. I have all her recipes.
I suppose I had odd tastes as a child as well. I loved (and STILL love) the pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. And from a very young age. RARE meat. I refused to eat it if it was not screamingly rare. I remember once, around age six, we were at a cook out with some friends on my parents. The guy knelt down to me and asked "How do you want your steak cooked?" I looked up at him and said, "Very, very, very rare". He said, "little boys don't eat steaks like that, how about we cook it medium well?" My dad told him, "Only if you want to waste the steak, he won't eat it if you do that" LOL!
Grandma always had "grandma candy". "Coffee Nips" in her candy dish, or candied orange peels she had made, or the sesame seed candy, and sometimes...just sometimes...she had marbled halvah. I still love "grandma candy".
For those who have never had halvah...it's made from sesame seeds. Pasted, sugar, chocolate...the taste is sweet, nutty, very lightly chocolate. The texture...is hard to describe...dry but moist, flaky and crumbly but not really. It is just amazing. It melts in your mouth but still has some "tooth".
There are recipes out there for it, but I've yet to find one that I like as much as the horrible processed stuff LOL I think if I could ever get the sesame seeds pasted to just the EXACT consistency it would be OK. I had begun to think I was going to have to perfect a recipe myself and then...
I have searched EVERYWHERE for halvah. All the local haunts, the delis, even Wegman's in NY did not have any when I was there. Then, this weekend, as I was in the international section, I turned around and heaven had opened up...there it was. Halvah.
If you find some (usually with the kosher foods), TRY IT! It comes in a few flavors, the vanilla is OK too, but the chocolate or "marble" is just heaven in your mouth. It is one of those fond rememberances and indulgences from my childhood. I am SO happy to have found it.
I am a shamanic practitioner, focused on healing of self and community. I am not trying to imitate any native path, but practice the tenets of tribal shamanism as it is found pan globally in the context of my modern tribe, my community.
I am DigitalShaman and I am a foodaholic. I've also started a cooking blog and joined "The Daring Kitchen"...wish me luck!