Saturday, 8 August 2009

Very Jewish Cooking

When someone dies in the Jewish religion, we have a very set mourning procedure. The funeral takes place as soon as possible, followed by a week of mourning, where the mourners (parents, siblings, spouse and children) spend a week sitting on low chairs, with torn clothes, and being visited by family and friends. There are prayers held every evening and the mourners don't cook, and don't organise or serve their own meals. This week is called shivah, and it takes place at a shivah house.

Whilst I was in France, my great-aunt died. This was not unexpected, in that she was very ill, but it happened a little sooner than we all thought. So this week has been a week of mourning for my grandfather, who is her brother, and her three children. My mum has had the job (along with a family friend) of being in charge of the organising of all the meals, although the Jewish community is wonderful at cooking meals for everybody. There are a lot of people to feed, as my great-aunt's children have families of their own who also need to eat at the shivah house, which is my great aunt's house.

The prayers are suspended for the Sabbath, so Friday evening and Saturday. Instead, you follow the rituals of the Sabbath, which take precedence over everything else. We always have a nice family meal on Friday night to welcome in the Sabbath, and so this week, we invited the family. There were 18 of us altogether, mainly adults, one child (the other children are on summer camp) and several of my generation: over 18, but still counted as children. We had my grandparents, who are my mum's parents, and my mum's sister and her husband; two of mum's cousins, plus their husbands, and three of their children; we also invited the friends who are helping with the meals. I'm very lucky to have such a close family.

Here is our very Jewish Friday night meal. We had a buffet because there were so many of us so we combined the first two courses rather than doing starters and mains:

Challah (Jewish plaited bread)
Egg mayonaise
Egg & onion
Chopped Liver
Pickled cucumbers
Sausage rolls
Salt Beef
Latkes (fried potato cakes)
Viennas (Little kosher sausages)
Corn Salad
Green Salad

Fresh fruit
Apple & blackberry crumble
Flourless chocolate cake (we made two because there were so many of us!)

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