What does a good little somewhat-but-not-very Jewish food fanatic do for Easter? She buys a ham and a box of matzoh meal. Obviously that requires a little explanation and/or justification.
It's like this, folks. Two things happened kind of simultaneously recently.....well...a lot more than 2 things, but the others are for another blog. I made a promise to myself that I would begin to use up the provisions stored in the freezer to ward off possible starvation.....an awful lot of it being chicken of various kinds, and in dealing with the first batch of thawed chicken I discovered I had a subliminal addiction for chicken salad. (mine is particularly delish because I put a dab of sweet pickle relish in it plus a bit of fresh chopped rosemary and it really makes a nibbling delight.) I have found that I prefer my chicken salad chicken to be made from good old fashioned soup chicken rather than leftover roast chicken....which, naturally seems to result in a refrigerator full of bottles of lovely homemade chicken soup like my Grandma Mamie used to make. Before I relegated said soup to the freezer I realized that the time of the year must be around Pesach. Now I haven't been to a Seder in more than half a lifetime, but my memory for food is perfect so naturally I started salivating for a good old fashioned matzoh ball to go in my chicken soup and found myself writing "Matzoh Meal" on the shopping list and wondering how in the hell to explain to Florence (from Uganda) what it was and how to find it in the Passover section of the market.
At just about this very moment my Handyman and friend, Michael appeared on the scene and began uttering wistful noises about a ham bone because he was craving a batch of his famous (?) ham and bean soup. This in turn reminded me of the fact that it was a holiday week and the markets always had some nifty butcher shop specials which I , the pinch-pennyest person in North Hollywood can't bear to miss.....and of course the special would be Ham. Now I love ham but I haven't baked one for longer than I haven't attended a Seder, but I figured I could find a recipe for a nice glaze and the idea of a slice of ham and some scalloped potatoes began to sound awfully good to me, so I wiped the saliva from my lips and told Michael that I would get a ham and cook it and share it with him, particularly the part with the bone. (*I am no fool.)
So there I was, a victim of a fascinating serious of unrelated circumstances, adding "10 lb. ham, butt end, be sure to get the one on sale, and go to the meat department and not to the deli section", to the list just under Matzoh Meal. You all know my ideas and feelings about religion, but in spite of not believing in any, except for a bit of Zen, I must confess that I am happy to report that there was no ominous thunderclap or shaking of the earth when I committed this possible blasphemous act. And, before I knew it I was brushing a brown sugar, honey, mustard, clove, cider vinegar glaze on this monstrous lump of gorgeous pink meat baking in my oven. Sigh.
There is not much more I can add except that, when I removed said ham from said oven and carved off a sliver to taste, I nearly fainted from the joy of it. Either it was the best ham in the universe prepared in the most perfect way or else it had just been too damned long since I had cooked a ham. Hell, even the cats devoured it and, somehow, I had always suspected they might be Jewish. I guess I should have known from their penchant for fish, and not just on Fridays, that they were probably failed Catholics.
I am not quite sure what the moral of this story is, or if it even has a moral. I do know that I love the way a tiny insignificant thing like the wretched task of cleaning out my freezer can lead me to such exquisite moments of delight. (and I haven't even carried on about how wonderful the chicken salad was .....what a blessing it is to be a food fanatic...........tenks gott.....if and whoever and wherever you may be. )
And that's all I have to say today other than, "Happy Easter, Pesach or Batshit Crazy Sunday. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
The New Yorker covers: March 17, 1934
7 hours ago