That Extra Little Indefinable Something


A few months ago, I stumbled upon an NPR article about the Jewish Food Society, which was on a mission to preserve Jewish cultural recipes from around the world. The headline was "The Jewish Food Society Wants To Save The Recipes Of Grandmas Everywhere," and it spoke to me deeply. 

 Told ya. It's in there forever.

Told ya. It's in there forever.

My grandma was a gourmet cook, social worker, opera lover, and overall classy lady. Coming from a prolific Jewish family of Pittsburgh, she knew her way around matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and honey cake, as well as she did chocolate mousse and strawberry vinegar gazpacho. The recipes I have from her are so perfect that there are no acceptable substitutes. Don't believe me? I carry a copy of her recipe for chocolate mousse in my wallet everywhere I go, just in case I end up somewhere I need to whip up a dessert worthy of the gods. You never know, ok? I was a Girl Scout for like a week. I'm prepared.

Even though we weren't raised in the Jewish faith, we still grew up exposed to the High Holiday celebrations, and nothing makes me think of Grandma and her cooking more than when Rosh Hashanah comes around and other, lesser honey cake recipes come out of the woodwork. None beats hers, but I'll never know if it's because of the recipe itself or the sentimental value. Sometimes it's that extra little indefinable something that makes the dish -- and I weirdly felt the same way about The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, which may be the first book I repeat this year. Repeat a book that's not Harry Potter? Yep, I went there. Find out why while you're baking your honey cake.