Hanukkah is coming, and with it my usual debate with my husband’s family. They are wonderful--sophisticated, warm and accepting of my last-minute hysterical gift decrees (no plastic toys, no battery-operated toys, whatever is bothering me that year). They are flexible about what a proper Menorah is, especially if a grandchild constructs it. But, don’t touch their toppings.
The Jewish holidays are divided (in my mind) into "food holidays" and "not food holidays." The High Holy Days are the ultimate expression of this dichotomy. On Rosh Hashana, we delight in foods that are sweet to ring in the New Year, and on Yom Kippur, we fast.
Thanks to Julie & Julia, foodies are abuzz about Julia Child. Icon though she is, the story of a different sort of chef caught my attention this week. Sylvia Schur passed away at age 92 last week. Her obituary in the New York Times captivated me as I realized that this woman was no ordinary chef.
Sylvia Schur was not a stereotypical "Betty Crocker," though she did create recipes for the company. She did not wear pearls and an apron and stand in a TV studio stirring cake batter. Instead, she pioneered the modern food industry - creating the now classic recipes you see on the back of the box, problem solving with the heads of Ocean Spray, editing magazines, running a successful consulting company, and developing convenience foods for women on the go. Sylvia Schur was a creative champion of modern working women who refused to spend their days in the kitchen.
With the exception of Yom Kippur, the past few weeks, for many of us in the Jewish community, have been bountifully full of food. I’ve been happily partaking in pumpkin bread/pumpkin muffin production (baking three loaves, and two tins of twelve muffins over the course of two days) and enjoying my friends’ seasonal culinary creations on a chilly evening in their sukkah.