Holiday food is the best! A a child, I always looked forward to the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and at Christmas, my grandmother’s English Trifle. My mother filled tins with homemade cookies as presents for family friends. The holidays were a magical time.
The holiday food tradition is carried on now by my husband, who has been baking steadily since COVID infection began to spread last March: cookies, cakes, pies, bread. Every day has been a holiday feast. It’s a wonder I can still get off the couch unassisted. After a month or so of this food fest, he branched out and began baking goodies for the neighbors on our little street. Now we are all bring each other food: fruitcake (my husband’s is the best ever!), bagels from a special local shop, and new (to me) from my friend and neighbor Liat, a Hanukkah pastry: sufganiyot. They are a sort of cross between a beignet and a jelly or cream-filled donut, and they are wonderful!
Prior my neighbor’s gift of sufganiyot, I had not particularly cared for Jewish holiday food, just as my spouse never much liked my grandmother’s English Trifle. The first Christmas he came to my parents’ house, my siblings and I were oohing and aahing over the trifle, and he took me aside and asked, “Do you really think this is good?” I thought about that for days after. Our beloved trifle was composed of layers of store-bought pound cake, jello, canned fruit cocktail and whipped cream—not exactly a gourmet delight. But that wasn’t the point. The great thing about Grandma’s trifle was we had it when we were all together at a joyful time, the holidays.
I will think about that the next time I am confronted with tzimmes and that dreadful syrupy wine at Passover. It’s not the food–it’s the family, stupid! And meanwhile, I have my Hanukah sufganiyot.