For the first part of Pessach I was in Lakewood, NJ, where three of my children and their families reside. During a break between mincha and maariv on the second evening, the learned discussion somehow veered to foods of our youth, dishes no longer served, since today they would rightfully be considered as “a heart attack on a plate” as my friend put it. We spoke of gribenes, three inch thick matzoh kugel, matzebrei made with oodles of eggs and quite a few more dishes of yore. Oyyy… they were truly delicious. What made them so, what delivered their heavenly aroma was chicken fat!
Gribenes were made by deep frying pieces of chicken skin in chicken fat… Yeap, I can see most of my readers recoiling in horror at the mere thought. Don’t worry, gentle reader, I haven’t touched these in quite a few decades nor do I advocate a return to them. But, I do wonder why – now that we consume far healthier fare – why is it that the percentage of obesity is far higher and the average age for passing on to the next plane has not significantly changed since I was a kid?
Perhaps the reason we were not adversely affected by these killer foods was because I remember the family always going for a walk after a meal, in fact we used to walk a lot. When I grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, elementary school was a mere two blocks away. After lunch, I’d walk 8 blocks to Yeshivas Machzikey Hada’as. When old enough for secondary, five or six of us from the same neighborhood would walk sixteen blocks each way to Liceo Hector Miranda and after lunch we’d walk another 10 blocks to the mesivtah. Only if it rained did we get a ride.
By the time were getting ready to move to the US, Montevideo got its first school that combined limudei kodesh and secular subjects, it went from kindergarten through secondary. The school’s name, showed the Zionist agenda of its founders. It was called, Escuela Dr. Teodor Herzl… I think, gentle reader, you’ll agree with me that such a name for a purportedly frum school just wouldn’t do today, not in the US! But I digress…
Getting back to food, both my daughters are excellent cooks as are my three daughters in law. Just thinking of some of the dishes I’ve enjoyed during the years makes my mouth water. Yes, the fare they serve is far healthier than what I remember growing up with. I was headquartered at my oldest son’s house, where I enjoyed both sedorim, the plethora of delicious dishes and the aromas wafting from the kitchen into the rest of the house was enough to make even the most satiated person hungry for more. Below, is the recipe for one of my daughter in law’s delicacies:
- 6 chicken cutlets
- 1 1/2 cup Duck Sauce
- 8 large potatoes
- 6 potatoes
- 2 onions
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 2 eggs separated
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pound the cutlets until they double in size, cut each in half. Set aside
- Peel the the 5 potatoes, boil them and cut in the lenght and cut them again (sideways) for a total of 8 to 10 pieces each. Set aside.
- Boil and mash the 6 potatoes for the filling
- Sautee the onions in oil.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff
- Add the egg yolks and sauteed onions to the mashed potatoes.
- Fold in the whites.
- Add potato starch, parsley flakes, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Put some of the potato mixture on each of the cutlets and roll them.
- Put the rolled cutlets on two tin pans.
- Pour the Duck Sauce over each cutlet.
- Take the cut up potatoes and cover any empty space.
- Put in preheated 350 F oven, for 1 hour.