Considering that my parents will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first date this weekend, it seems only appropriate to use today shed light on a certain farce: my mother didn’t marry my father for his flamenco guitar, his ability to use a hammer and a nail or his promises to love her for the next hereafter. Nope, she married him because when she asked his aunt for the recipe to her delicious noodle kugel, she was told she couldn’t have it until she married my father. And so it was. And you might think this story cruel or careless, but really, mother has been telling me and my sister this our whole lives and my father seems not in the least offended. “I only married him for that noodle kugel recipe,” she says, and everyone nods and smiles because, well, they’ve heard it a zillion times before but also because the kugel is just that good. What’s to question?
If you’ve ever tried to recreate something you loved when you were growing up in your own kitchen, you know how difficult it can to match your taste memory to the reality of ingredients and step-by-step directions. Sometimes, even when you get the flavor right, it doesn’t feel right, but you hold out for those rare times that everything falls into place.
After realizing that both Alex and my families loved the same decadent grocery store chocolate babka growing up, I set out to find a recipe to recreate it at home. I waded through dozens and dozens, convinced that something was off in each of them, continually closing my eyes and trying to remember exactly what makes it what it is.
I have been tagged by Cathy at one of my favorite new (to me) food blogs, Not Eating Out In New York, to tell you five things you might already not know about me. I find her site—and those pickles!—impossible to resist, so here we go:
1. My parents have two of my oil paintings in their living room. I painted them while taking a class on the Greek island of Corfu one summer between college semesters. I think I really thought at back then I’d be a painter when I grew up. I barely touch paints anymore, but when I occasionally run into one of my old boxes of art gear under the bed and get that whiff of turpentine, I kind of long for it. Later, I got more into ceramic sculpture, and this I miss all the time. If hell ever freezes over and I end up living in a house far from the city’s borders, I want a kiln. Just thought I’d put it out there.
2. I’m not sure that you don’t know this, but I am a reporter for my day job, where I write about techy stuff. What this means is that I could probably bore you to tears with an at-length discussion of the UAC features of Vista, but promise not to. (Alex, sadly, gets no such assurance.) It does not mean that I have even once successfully programmed a VCR. (Could I sound more old?) Of my ten immediate coworkers, I am the only girl. I am also the only one who brings in loaves of freshly baked bread, but I suspect that goes without saying.
Despite the fact that it takes some kind of crazy to cook a separate meal while embedded in preparing a multi-course meal for a dinner party, yet another night of take-out — even from my beloved Kitchen Market — seemed unbearable last night, and seeing as it was the first night of Hanukah, it was only appropriate to make a batch of latkes. But tradition is so boring, isn’t it? Thank goodness for Food & Wine’s deliriously enticing latke-vodka party (this is the second year in a row I am kicking myself for not having one — 2007 Deb, get on that!), pairing them with the wasabi cream topping, the suggested accompaniment for the sweet potato variety. Awesome, awesome. We skipped the caviar and what-not on top as only one of us would have loved that and it was not the person standing over the stove, tra-la-la. It all went perfectly with a lightly-dressed napa cabbage salad and, you betcha, a hefty glass of wine.
And now, the kitchen yet again beckons. Soup! Tarts! Salad! Cheater’s creme anglaise! Those croutons aren’t going to toast themselves, lady.