Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I Should've Been Born Jewish

There is a joke that my Mum and I share. It's origin comes from the film The First Wives Club which has been the staple of many a girls movie nights for us. Bette Midler's character tells her son not to "Shame her in the Synagogue" while he is prepping for his Bah Mitzvah. We adopted the phrase some time ago and it is frequently used in all manner of contexts in our house.


About two years ago, in a nod to this, I bought my Mum a little book about Jewish cooking. The joke played double meaning given that we tease my Mum that 1. She hasn't seen an oven since last decade (not true) and 2. Her standby dinner when she does cook these days is eggs, chips and curry sauce (true). She still has the book and it sits in the back room, nestled among the personal library of cookery books we have accumulated over the years.


More recently, when my Mum was down with a terrible flu a few months back, I decided to make "Jewish penicillin"to make her feel better. Obtaining the recipe from a library book I had in my obsession, Jewish penicillin is essentially chicken noodle soup, but with a bit of love stirred in. If you ask my Mum, she maintains that the soup had healing properties.


So, a fondness for Jewish culture is nothing new to me. While in the library yesterday, I stumbled across a tome of a book entitled "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Cooking". The Bette Midler inside of me rejoiced. Not caring that I already had enough books to topple over my weight, I duly checked it out.



Later that evening, I settled down to flick through my find. The book is fantastic. It not only provides recipes for a host of meals, but it also contains detailed information about the historical plight of the Jews and the sense of community which has anchored people in every continent. As I work through the book alphabetically (currently at the B's), I've yet to find a recipe I don't want to try.


"Maaaamm" I cried as she came up the stairs. "Look at the book I got!" I said with the glee of a three-year-old finding a pretty shell on the beach.


"We should become Gods chosen people!" I declare to my sister.


"I can't, I have tattoos" she replies with her sensibility. "Ha, I don't! I'll be Gods chosen people!" I reply.


After reading a bit about the history of the bagel - and putting a longing on myself for one in the process - I declare to my Mum that I should practice Judaism. "Like, I love the food, I love the sayings and I could totally get on board with Shiva!"


She meets this with the attention she pays to my other hair-brained schemes. "Just eat the food" she replies, while maintaining eye contact with the news bulletin on FYI (the shame, oi).


This fails to pour cold water on my delight. I text the boyfriend about my revelation. "Oh my God, I should've been born a Jew, I'm in love with this book <3". He replies, pragmatically, " It's a book about food, who wouldn't like it."


"Not just food though... Jewish food... And they have the best traditions!". He decides to defer to my expertise on the subject.


You know, my loved ones may think that this is a "phase" of mine, rather like when I decided I was a punk or that I could rap to the levels of Kanye West. But I think there could be something to this whole Jewish thing. I feel deprived that I didn't get a Bah Mitvah and am genuinely considering having one in the future. So I'll need to learn a bit of Hebrew, but it can't be that hard! It kind of sounds like a three-syllable chant, so that should be handy enough. Admittedly, my knowledge of the first testament is sketchy, but that's nothing that a quick search on Wikipedia won't fix. Sorted!


Also, it strikes me that Judaism is much more liberal than the Catholic faith than the nuns thought me in school. I'll need to double check this, but I'm pretty sure that God in this context is cool with the whole sex before marriage thing and smoking. Which are my two biggest considerations when it comes to religion, naturally.


In fact, the only stumbling block so far seems to be the whole no pork thing. I mean, I'm quite found of pork. But there are enough tasty recipes for me to try sans pig that I might not even notice my missing bacon.



                                                I think I'll miss you the most, dear bacon...

In order to demonstrate if I can really commit myself to a new religion, I am going to take the most practical action - and make some tasty treats from the book this week. They said the way to a (wo)man's heart is through the stomach. Let's see if this is also the way to spiritual enlightenment. 
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