Shabbat Hanukah Pastry Experience

I’m so glad Brian’s writing for the blog again, I’m even using his preferred spelling for the holiday (Hanukah) instead of my own (Chanukah).  Wars have been fought over this issue, you know!  One of these years, I’ll even get to taste these pastries I’ve heard so much about.  Chag sameach, happy holiday, however you spell it, and be sure to eat some fried food this week.

I am proud to be one of the last people posting for this illustrious blog – over the past year I have learned quite a bit about what makes food tasty. From the specific recipe to the specific company kept, every experience is uniquely wonderful.
That brings us to an experience I have been having every Hanukah since I was born. Many of you might remember growing up eating sufganiyot or latkes, a tradition connecting the miracle of the oil at the Temple in 132-5 CE to the miracle of the frying pan in 2012. Well, in my family we do something a little different: we make the South African pastry known as the koeksister. Braided and fried dough is dipped in a syrup that is essentially two parts sugar, one part water, with a dash of ginger and honey for good measure. They are some of the tastiest pastries on the planet and in the 27 years of experience I have making them, I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t recognize how sweet and awesome they are.
This year – as with the last few – my parents hosted about 60 people over the course of 6 hours. Many of my friends and some relatives come every year to help us make (and eat) the tasty pastries. As my mom is fond of saying, this falls under the food group category of “bad for you but tastes good.” Others suggest it is more in the category of “eat it and die.” In either case, we made about 375 of them yesterday (not counting some that were already eaten when I went around).
Traditions are important – they help solidify cultures and communities in a way that policies and laws do not. I am glad that I have this tradition and hope to continue it with my children in the future. If you are curious or interested in joining, here is the recipe – I highly recommend you make them and enjoy!
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