What I missed most about this last Hanukkah was my daughter who was living in New York city but now moving to Philadelphia. What is it about children who when they get their graduate degrees don’t simply move back home but have to find good jobs far away? In any case, I digress.
My second most missed thing last Hanukkah was “bumuelos” (Turkish Beignets). I can smell a “bumuelo” frying at 1,000 paces. Every culture has such a thing. In the case of the Sephardic Jew, it is a golf ball size jewel of fried raised dough, covered in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. The only reason “latkes” (potato pancakes) were invented is that the Jews in their exile to Northern lands (Poland, Russia, Rumania, Hungary, etc) had an excess of potatoes available. Ah, but the Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Yugoslavian Jews got it right.
Hanukkah celebrates the victory of a small band called the Macabees over the Greco-Syrians in a 25 year war that began in 167 BCE. But, it also commemorates the rekindling of a makeshift “menorah” in the Temple of Jerusalem that had been defiled by idol worship. Not only was one vial of the priestly “kosher” pure oil found, but instead of burning for one day it burned for eight, giving the people time to press new pure oil. Thus, we have eight nights of Hanukkah, eight candles on our Hanukkah “menorahs”, and eight nights to enjoy my favorite artery clogging treat, BUMUELOS! Oh, the steak? Yes, “bumuelos” go very well as dessert following a nice prime rib dinner. Just don’t expect to get to sleep very early that night!