Monday, April 30, 2012

4/21/12: I Cooked And Didn't Kill Anyone! MIRACLE

My First Shabbat Meal

Dear readers,
I am very sorry that there have been no blog updates for some time. I unfortunately have a very sick computer and have not been able to update while it has been in the shop. Luckily, however, my roommate went to Italy for a few days leaving me his computer so I will try to write as many blog posts as I can before he gets home tonight!

As I have stated many times before, this little adventure of mine is about growing, new experiences, finding myself, and through that I am discovering some very exciting hidden talents that I never knew I possessed. This is the story of how Jordana learned she could cook!

Aside from the sweet potato pie and stuffing I made for my first Thanksgiving in Israel I really have not had much experience in the kitchen... and by that I mean I really have not had ANY experience in the kitchen (comes with being lazy!). With that being said, I find the fact that I offered to cook a very special friend of mine a legitimate, multi-course dinner quite humorous. I clearly was not being rational when I made the offer, however, he has cooked for me on many occasions so I thought it would only be fair... Really, aside from the fact that I HAVE NEVER REALLY COOKED IN MY LIFE, it was a fantastic idea! Luckily my family consists of brilliant cooks, especially my Uncle Scott, so I figured I at least had genetics on my side :-)

Luck seemed to be on my side as well because that Friday night all of my roommates would be gone leaving me, for the first time since moving in, completely alone in the apartment for the entire night. I capitalized on this opportunity of solidarity, and suggested that I cook the meal that night, which just happened to also be Shabbat. Not only was I fulfilling a promise, but I was also giving myself an opportunity to prepare my first Sabbath meal! Friday morning came, I decided exactly what I wanted to cook, bought the ingredients, came home, waited for the last of the boys to leave, and then got to work! I had a good few hours to clean the apartment, cook the meal, and get myself all ready before my friend returned to the apartment. Since I am not sure if he is ok with me using his name I will refer to him as Frenchy for the time being. That is the name I used to call him before I really knew him.

Anyways, I decided that I wanted to cook something simple (since this was my first time), but I still wanted it to be interesting and delicious so I settled on roast rosemary, garlic chicken with roast onions, peppers, and mushrooms, Israeli salad, and sweet potato pie; after all my sweet potatoes were a big hit during thanksgiving. Thank God for FaceTime because I was able to talk to my mom while I was preparing everything just to make sure I was doing everything correctly; I really didn't want this meal to send Frenchy or me to the hospital so I figured some motherly advice would be a really good idea. After I went over everything with momma I set to work marinating the chicken, washing the potatoes, and obsessively chopping the vegetables for both the Israeli Salad and the chicken dish. As I was chopping I giggled because I realized I was just like my grandfather in the sense that I was making sure everything was finely chopped and the same size... can you say obsessive compulsive!!

When everything was marinated and chopped the chicken and the potatoes went into the oven, the cucumbers and peppers went into the salad bowl along with olive oil and lemon juice, and the remainder of the veggies went into the frying pan to be sauteed. At this point I had about 30 minutes to kill time so I figured this would be the point where I would shower and get myself ready. I was making sure to make the meal look gorgeous (if it was going to taste like crap I at least wanted it to look good) so I wanted to make myself decent as well (I didn't think my robe would be so appropriate). When I was all finished getting ready I walked back into a transformed kitchen smelling of the most wonderful scents; rosemary filled the room with hints of garlic and lemon to accent the scrumptious smell. By now it was time to check the chicken to make sure I had cooked it well enough, and when the juices ran clear I knew I at least wouldn't kill him with undercooked meat :-)

The apartment was clean, I set the table making sure to include Shabbat candles, Challah, and wine (I wasn't half assing this Shabbat meal), and then awaited Frenchy's arrival. Like I said before, this was my first time cooking so if it wasn't going to taste good I at least wanted it to look good. I hope I achieved at least this!

At around 9pm Frenchy arrived, I revealed the fruits of my labor (which I think he was at least a little impressed with), and then we sat down for the meal. I didn't know if he was lighting candles with his family earlier so I lit the Shabbat candles before he arrived, however, I was in for a HUGE treat because he graced me with a Sephardic Kiddish (which was the greatest thing ever), we washed hands, said the prayer for the Challah, and sat down to a wonderful Shabbat dinner. I was so happy that the food turned out to be very tasty, no one got sick, and it was a perfectly wonderful meal.

All jokes and humor aside, this was a big event for me for reasons that go beyond the fact that I discovered I am actually a pretty decent cook. From the time I was a baby my Jewish identity has been shaped and nurtured by my parents and grandparents; they would cook the meals, prepare the seders, say the prayers, and the Jewish environment in which I grew up was shaped completely by them (as it should be). This, however, was the first time I was able to take all that I have learned and create this same kind of Jewish environment for myself, and I have really never felt so grown up. From preparing the meal, to lighting the candles, to going through the rituals of Kiddish, Motzi (blessing over bread), etc. it was the first time I was able to take our age old traditions and make them on my own; no elders holding my hand. This night was an eloquent illustration of how parents pass down traditions to their children in the hopes that they, one day, will be able to master them and pass them on to their children, and that is a very special thing to not only witness but be apart of. To most people reading this entry this meal might seem like a very small kind of accomplishment, but to me it illustrated a right of passage so to speak, and that is the biggest kind of accomplishment. My parents gave me the tools that I will now use to shape my Jewish adult life and to them I say Kol Hakavod! YOU TAUGHT ME GOOD!!! I'm just very happy I got to share another one of my special experiences with a wonderful friend who only made the experience a million times more special.

Until we meet again <3,
Jordana Simone

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