Today we say a bittersweet goodbye to the “Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys” chapter. From here we progress to the Salads Chapter. It’s been an adventure, from the sublime Coconut Date Chutney, to the resonant Harissa to the unlovely Hilbeh.
The last two Hilbeh recipes, Yemeni Hilbeh and Aden Hilbeh turned out just as badly as the Calcutta Hilbeh. I had allowed the ground fenugreek mixed with water to sit a full 24 hours on the counter until it had turned into a yellow, gelatinous mush. Voila!!! Fenugreek Jelly!!!!!
I blended the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, caraway seed, powdered cardamom and chili pepper in the food processor very quickly and then added the fenugreek. When it was all mixed I dipped the tip of a spoon in the food processor bowl and licked it off. Sigh. If I say “Yuck” will I sound like an ethnocentric philistine or just like I’m four?
I also went ahead and made the Aden Hilbeh, just to get it over with, but that tasted, in my unsophisticated opinion, even worse than the other two.
I cleaned out the bowl of the processor, the site of all my preparations in this chapter, with a wistful feeling. Overall, I have liked or even loved the recipes recently. Oh you “Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys”: parting is such sweet sorrow.
It is like ten degrees outside. I am wearing my heaviest winter coat here in the building. I look more like one of the patients than the staff.
And by the way, did anyone read the article about Hanukah by Howard Jacobson in the New York Times a few weeks ago? That was one ignorant piece of writing. He complains about the story of the holiday, the songs, the dreidel game, the food. He even objects to Hanukah because it makes Jewish kids, who don’t get any gifts for Hanukah, jealous of their Christian friends who get Christmas gifts. Are you kidding me?
What an idiot. I don’t care if he just won the Man Booker Prize. His article is still stupid, and he should have listened to the talk Rabbi Fred Hyman gave on Shabbat Hanukah, about the eternality of the holiday, about the fact that it was the time in which the concept of “the saving of a life defers everything” was established. Rabbi Hyman said further that the story of Hanukah is a chance to see G-‘s hand directly in history.Shows how much you don’t know, Mr. Jacobson, you cretin.