Archive for the Yom Tov Category

The Purest

Posted in Food, Funny?, Kashrus, Me, Yom Tov on May 6, 2011 by frumpunk

If my calculations are correct, and I have no reason to assume otherwise, this is the fourth article I’ve written concerning my Pesach experiences to date. The first was silly, a pithy piece using found photos to illustrate the madness involved in Pesach cleaning by displaying an apartment completely clothed in aluminum foil. The second was personal, and involved my ill fated seder when I tried to actually drink four cups of wine. Sweet red wine, as recommended by my cousin, whom I love very much but is sadly, somewhat of an imbecile. The third post conveyed my further dissatisfaction with the four cups motif when I felt sick to my stomach purely as the result of big cups of grape juice; a sacramental drink (seriously, check the label) that apparently contains enough sugar to power a small factory, or at the very least, to fuel the dreams of every kid in Ramat Beit Shemesh of running from one end of the town to the other, screaming continuously. While the sugar attacking my system didn’t make me scream, it was enough to inspire a short lived superhero based on me named Sucrose Man. He had the power to vomit crime off the streets. Okay, down the drain. Whatever.

This one however, comes neither to damn wine nor praise it. Honestly, I don’t care anymore. My body refuses to tolerate fermented grapes, I can accept that. I get through the seder with grape juice, but just a bit. Whoever once fed me the line about having to drink the whole cup to fulfill the mitzvah can go pleasure themselves with a rusty car door. Try a Ford Focus, the rounded sides will make a world of difference. This year I managed to get bothered by the side products, the things we buy kosher for Pesach despite the ingredients list being exactly the same as normal, ie, they didn’t contain wheat in the first place. You know, the chocolates, the cheese, the mayonnaise. Our mayo this year came courtesy of a brand called ‘Goodies’, which I’d never heard of and assumed to be a Geffen product at first glance. I recommend you never hear of it either, unless you want mayo that instantly separates into semi-liquified egg bits and warm oil when exposed to any temperature warmer than a polar bears waterbed. You know what else I only just realized this year? Kosher for Pesach Coke and Pepsi are a crock. Oh sure, it makes sense in America where any beverage with more ingredients than water is pumped full of corn syrup, but in the civilized world it’s always contained cane sugar anyway. You know what they do at Coke bottling plants in Israel for Pesach? Print out a new label. Then laugh a maniacal laugh that they spent the rest of the year practicing (one assumes) as they export it all over Europe at a markup that makes the price of bread in post World War One Germany seem an absolute bargain.

The best thing we had this year though? The water. Pure Spring Water, absolutitious, and 100% Kosher for Pesach. It had three hechshars and a PI rating of 67, which I think means it gets to insult lesser waters on the supermarket shelf while it waits for that special balabusta to scoop it up, the one that has to make sure that the water her family drinks this Pesach contains absolutely no bread, wheat, flour or thrift. I read the label during a particularly strenuous bout of “Ha Lachma Anya”. Turns out it gets filtered naturally at the source. Which simply means they don’t do a single thing to it before feeding it into their own bottling plants, other than using their own filtration systems, because while everyone likes the idea of drinking from a pure babbling brook in the mountains, those pure babbling brooks contain plenty of pure babbling insects. Insects who pee and fornicate in your water. Where do you think they do it?

I’ve worked kosher supervision before. It’s one of the better unskilled jobs, if one of the more boring, and I really like to imagine somewhere out there is a rabbi. He’s standing by a natural stream of freshwater, somewhere in the mountains. He’s thinking of all the relevant halachas that could be involved in making sure the water people drink this year will be Kosher for Pesach. People who trust him enough to cast the fate of their Pesach in his hands. His eyes are closed in concentration. He opens them, just wide enough to see a figure. A figure on the other side of the water. With a loaf of bread. Feeding the ducks.

The Final Countdown

Posted in Food, Frum, Funny?, Yom Tov on July 12, 2010 by frumpunk

It’s getting late, down to the wire. It’s not about the food anymore – hasn’t been for longer than you can remember. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. How many spoonfuls has it been? Don’t know, don’t care. You have to keep going. Suddenly you regret all those supermarket trips. Did you need that much ground beef? Were you really going to use that chicken? Doesn’t matter now. There’s no time for regrets and there’s no time to ponder. You have to keep eating. Two more spoonfuls and half the plate of meatloaf is gone. Only three more trays and half a chicken. You can do it. You know you can because you must. You check the clock again. A bead of sweat drops by your plate, more evidence of your foolish overcooking. You question your zealotry. You promise to change, to be better, to learn how to portion and conserve. You’d promise anything to not have to keep eating meat; everything that won’t keep or freeze for the next nine days. You’d feel guilty for having the pain of over-consumption in a world where millions starve, but you can’t. You’re too bloated to think of anything but the inevitable bowel movement this will end in and the porcelain havoc it’s sure to wreak.

And there you are. You’re consumed with that odd blend of sickness and pride that comes from finishing all the meat in your fridge before the nine days. Like sushi in a bad restaurant it creates an awkward sensation in your stomach and one that you hope you don’t have to meet again later that night.

But for now, you’re done. Your mother will be so proud.

All Yomtoved Out

Posted in Frum, Kashrus, Me, Rants, Yom Tov on April 16, 2010 by frumpunk

Yes, it took me that long to recover from Pesach 2010. I’m a procrastinator by nature so I spent the last few days before doing all my cleaning and shopping according to halacha, then of course doing the modern post-halachic practices of checking my fruit for chometz, installing a grain filter to my pipes so no chometz would be pumped in through my tapwater and shooting all the pigeons on my roof because they’re notorious for eating grain and you can’t be too careful these days.

Of course, I also had to make sure all my paper plates and toilet paper had enough hechsharim on. Three different ones is considered the machmir standard but most poskim hold you’re not really doing your histadlus unless you have at least five hechsharim from three different countries. I think the worse part of pre-pesach preperations are the laxatives you have to take these days, to make sure your system is completely flushed out of chometz. I don’t enjoy it, but who am I to argue against halacha?

Also, it’s official. I can’t drink any wine without getting a stomach-ache. It’s even worse than Purim, because you don’t eat for hours before the seder, then you drink two cups of red wine. I don’t know what it is, but I usually spend half the seder on the couch groaning while the middle bits of the seder pass me by. I had mostly grape juice the second night, but even the light kedem is so sugary and sweet I feel ill. Maybe I just have a week stomach? All I know is, I need to talk to someone for next year. It’s hardly celebrating yomtov in the proper spirit when what you’re obligated to do by halacha ruins the rest of the stuff you’re meant to do.

It’s always a little jarring when a long yom tov ends. The previous eight days all start to run into each other in a steady routine of put on suit, go to shul, come home and eat, take a nap/read/walk/hang out go back to shul, eat again, go to sleep, repeat. It becomes a week of shul/eat/shul/eat and having shabbos take up most of chol hamoed didn’t help. It’s the one time of year I wish I lived in Israel where I hear rumors that they just have one seder, five days of chol hamoed and then one day of yomtov which sounds like the way it should be. The first seder is nice. When you start to do it all again the second night it begins to get tiresome, especially for me with my wine issues, and the kids questions switch from “why is this night different”, to “why is this night the same as last night?”

Well, now that I got my Pesach post typed up it’s smooth sailing from here until Rosh Hashonah. Although, now that I think about it I’m not sure the lettuce I used for my marror had enough hechsharim. Do I need to do it all over again just to make sure?

Ugh, better safe than sorry. See you in eight days.

How To Chanukkah Correctly

Posted in Chanukah, Food, Frum, Funny?, Heimish, Yom Tov on December 16, 2009 by frumpunk

Chanukkah is here, and frankly, I can’t think of a better time to be celebrating it, seeing as Chanukkah is basically just an eight day celebration of fuel savings and conservation. I mean, eight days of oil from one small jug? When can I get that technology in my Buick? (Hey-oh!) Maybe we wouldn’t need carbon offset charges if the maccabis were running Chevron. I mean, eight days of continuous fuel from a jug that small? Are we sure that menorah wasn’t hybrid? Please, settle down. I’ve got a million of ’em.

But more important than jokes about gas savings is making sure the holiday is celebrated correctly. A quick summary for those who may be in the dark; Chanukkah is a festival where the Jews, after taking back the Beis Hamikdash, managed to light the menorah for eight days with only one small jug of oil. This is so they could use the rest of the oil to fry things. Ever since then it’s been a mitzvah to fry things in oil on Chanukkah. What most people don’t realize is that it’s actually an aveirah to eat things that aren’t fried on Chanukkah. I recently had to grab my sister to stop her eating an apple when she came home from school. Remember, as Jews we have to watch out for each other. If your neighbor sins the blame is on the whole congregation for not stopping and helping him. That’s why I threw that sucker in the deep fryer, then made her eat it. She may be mad at me now, but she’ll thank me later when she doesn’t go to gehenom for her sinful unfried-fruit eating ways.

But it’s not enough to simply fry everything you eat. You have to eat the right things. Just yesterday I organized a protest outside my local bakery after I witnessed them selling doughnuts on Channukah that weren’t jelly. Sadly, in our modern days this is just another commandment that people seem to think is optional, like not having a haircut before the age of three or not owning a kosherlamp. We have a mesorah to only eat jellified doughnuts on chanukkah, just like the maccabis did right after they conserved that gas, just like Yehudah did when at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopened Beis Hamikdah, just like moshe rabbeinu did right after he defeated Voldemort by throwing his streimel over his eyes, then squirted the jelly in them, blinding the dark lord, as so often happens to us when we bite into a doughnut from a Brooklyn bakery. Point is, these traditions have kept us alive as a people through a long a dark exile, and to abandon them now is to ensure our death as a nation.

So light your menorah and shine a blaze into that ever darkening night. Preferably with your kosher lamp.

In The Freezer

Posted in Food, Funny?, Me, Yom Tov on August 19, 2009 by frumpunk

Fooled you, didn’t I? Admit it, you saw the title and thought “oh a shidduch post. He hasn’t done one of those in ages.” Well, nope. If I wrote on that topic, I’d be like a billion other bloggers, and my goal is to be unique. That’s why I blog on wordpress and refuse to wear pants whilst writing, brainstorming or shopping.

I came home this morning to the sweet smell of that most delicate of Ashkenazi foods, the meat boureka. It’s unknown in any other culture, because they’re just not good enough to have it, and it’s a rarity in my parents house because my mother usually refuses to make anything involving pastry, oil, or anything else that might make food, to use a technical term, “delicious”. She saves that stuff for yom tov, and when I tried to “borrow one”, she told me that these were for succos, right after slamming my thieving hand with a rolling pin. The lesson here is not to try and take one when your mother is still rolling out pastry, but the secondary lesson is that the freezer simply stops time. Food does not age in the freezer, as long as it’s both in there, and wrapped in foil.

Whether or not this is true, my mother truly believe it is. She sometimes will look in the freezer and dig out an unidentifiable lump of something, frost-bitten and wrapped in tinfoil. She will then bring it to me to see if I know what it is. If I don’t she takes it to everyone else in the house. If noone is sure what exactly it is, she’ll defrost it and eat it just to find out. I swear I’m not kidding. The number of times I’ve asked her later if she found out what the freezer lump was, only to have her tell me that she microwaved and ate it is staggering. “Oh, it was chicken soup”. “Oh, it was brisket”. “I’m not sure what it was, but it tasted good with a little salt”.

Now that I’m technically an adult, and have gone out into the world a little, I’m starting to realize a lot of strange things about my parents, mostly regarding food. One of my favorite books is “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. (If you haven’t read it, get it. I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s just plain hilarious). The last story is about how his father hoards food for years, usually in the bathroom cabinet. I found it funny, but creepily familiar. If you check any of my fathers jackets, including suit jackets you will always find chocolate in the inside pocket, usually in the form of Raisinets, but also Kit Kats, Twix and chocolate covered coffee beans. Basically, my dad likes to have chocolate handy at any time. And it has no expiration date for him. They can be there for years and he will still snack on them next time he puts on that jacket. He also shares my mothers freezer mentality (maybe that’s why they married?) as he will buy anything chocolate or snack related and put it in the freezer. There’s nothing better than frostbitten caramel, is there? We all complain, and I don’t know how he eats the stuff. I really don’t because none of us have ever seen my dad eat any of the things he keeps in the freezer. Much like David Sedaris’s father, my dad will buy anything at a discount, then keep it in the freezer for years. Meat that expires the day he buys it goes into the freezer for weeks before he’ll eat it. He doesn’t equate “quick sale” with “immediate consumption”.

This has gone on way too long, considering my original point was meant to be the question: does anyone actually know if things kept in the freezer stay edible forever? Or am I being slowly poisoned by chicken slaughtered in the Roman era, by all probability.

Happy Crocs Day

Posted in Yom Tov on July 30, 2009 by frumpunk

Sorry, I mean Happy Crocs and Think About Food Day.

Sore butt from sitting on low stools optional.

Positively Pesach

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Heimish, Me, Yom Tov on May 4, 2009 by frumpunk

Before I begin, let me point out that I’m not late in posting about Pesach this year. I’m just really early in posting about how my Pesach was next year. 🙂

This Pesach was the first time my brother came home since going off to Israel. In seven months he’s completely frummed out, which is fantastic, at least if you’re always looking for blogging material. I mean frummed out as in, making my sister cringe when he took her to a college interview and while they were waiting, asking any Jewish-looking passing students if they want to learn some Pirkei Avos.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the seder, while I was pouring out my grape juice-with-a-bit-of-wine, he looked over and remarks that while he’s sure what I’m doing is halachically correct, he’s going to do things the correct way and drink four cups of wine. To emphasize the hilarity of this situation let me mention two things; our seder cups are massive and noone in my family drinks alcohol because we’re genetically lightweights.

My mother, who’s always quick to jump on a bandwagon of anything that seems frummer followed his lead with filling up her cup to the brim with wine (because he also said it has to be a full cup no matter how big the cup. I asked him what about if I brought a giant novelty ten liter wine glass to the table. He didn’t answer). So as I expected, by the time shulchan orech came around, my brother was wasted and my mother was on the couch with a headache.

So ironically, my brother was trying to be so frum that he got himself drunk to the point where he collapsed into bed and was snoring after soup, so he didn’t even say hallel or have the last two cups. Also, from seven months in Israel his hebrew pronunciation has picked up an Israeli twinge on the accent that is frankly, hilarious.

As for me, I left the seder with a stomachache from drinking all that kedem grape juice that is probably more of a laboratory experiment in bowel movements than an actual beverage. So sickly sweet. And I remember reminding myself of the post I wrote last Pesach complaining about the same thing and getting some comments on the right kind of wine to buy. Maybe next year I’ll remember in time.

Hope yours was as much fun.