Hannah Star Eat, Repent and be Merry

It’s every Jew’s favourite time of year again: the high holidays. We celebrate the fake – I mean Jewish – New Year, do all kinds of repenting and shit for a week, and top it all off with a belly-busting breaking-of-the-fast Yom Kippur dinner. I genuinely look forward to the high holidays...but I assure you, it isn’t because I’m religious. I don’t get into the whole asking God for forgiveness thing. I actually don’t even believe in God. The reason I’m looking forward to heading home for the holidays this year, aside from seeing my family, is the food. If you’ve never experienced a culinary adventure through the world of Jewish cuisine, allow me to be your guide.

Staple #1: Knish

According to my vast knowledge of Jewish culinary history, otherwise known as Wikipedia, the knish arrived in North America when Ukrainian immigrants came overseas at the start of the twentieth century. The knish can take on a variety of delicious forms; at its most basic, however, it’s a crispy bun stuffed with a sweet or savoury filling. The outer dough can be baked, grilled, or deep-fried, and the fillings range from potato, cheese, and meat to fruit, beans, or tofu (side note: anyone who opts for tofu in their knish has no soul). A word of warning, however: “Knish” is also used colloquially as a nick-name for a vagina. So the next time you’re about to tell your girlfriend’s Jewish grandmother that you’d love to have a taste of her sweet knish...don’t.

Staple #2: Matzah Ball Soup

Matzah in its natural form = bad. Matzah in ball form = OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUSNESS. The matzah ball was created when some genius realized that matzah – a thin, crumbly, dry-as-fuck cracker – is not appetizing to anyone, anywhere. Instead, he or she discovered that the matzah could be pulverized into matzah meal, combined with chicken stock, oil, and seasoning, formed into balls, and served in a tasty broth. Suddenly, matzah became juicy, fluffy, and flavourful. Amazing! Also worthy of noting is this description from the “Matzah Ball” page on Wikipedia: Keeping one's hands wet is vital when handling the sticky balls.

Staple #3: Kugel, a.k.a Noodle Pudding

In my opinion, Kugel sits at the very top of the Jewish food ladder. The kugel was probably first invented when somebody had a bunch of yummy but seemingly un-related ingredients sitting around in their fridge that they didn’t want to discard, and decided to bake them all together into a pie. And it turned out to be delectable. The noodle pudding that I grew up eating contains egg noodle, cottage cheese, cinnamon, cranberries, and onion, all baked together like a casserole. It’s okay if you’re squirming – I know it sounds gross. You’ve just got to take a leap of faith into crispy-yet-fluffy, sweet-yet-savoury goodness.

For all you readers who have never tried Jewish food, hopefully I’ve gotten you thinking about how you can score a Jewish girlfriend or boyfriend in time to make it to a Yom Kippur feast. Try not to get yourself so wasted on Manishewitz that you pass out face-first into your gefilte fish.

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