Photo collage by Tablet magazine
Photo collage by Tablet magazine
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The Rosh Hashanah Hunger Games

The culinary (mis)adventures of three familiar archetypes, including the crazed, cooking mom who has no time to eat anything but wine

Marjorie Ingall
September 10, 2015
Photo collage by Tablet magazine
Photo collage by Tablet magazine

In the tradition of New York magazine’s The Grub Street Diet, in which (sometimes) well-known people document their food-related experiences for a week, we present the Rosh Hashanah food diaries of three familiar fictional archetypes. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, of course, is purely coincidental.

Sandwich-Generation Mom Cooks Like a Dervish, Is Not Resentful
Barbara Berkowitz, 67, makes Rosh Hashanah for her family every year

Sunday, September 13
I cooked non-stop for two weeks but it’s fine, I love it. Every time I opened the freezer a brisket fell out. I nearly broke a toe. I had 42 people for Erev Rosh but once you’re already cooking for 8, it’s no big deal. We had apples and honey, chopped liver, chicken soup with matzoh balls—which, of course, I make with club soda because what am I, an animal?—brisket, a sweet kugel and a savory kugel because my mother and mother-in-law fight about kugel and it is on my shoulders to keep them from killing each other, an apple kuchen, and chocolate chip cookies for the farshtunkiner grandchildren who don’t know what’s good. Oh, you want to know what ate? I tasted the chopped liver as I was making it. At dinner I had an apple slice. Who has time to eat? I was waiting on everyone hand and foot—this one wants Sprite, that one wants ketchup. Fine, I had four cups of wine. Don’t tell me that’s only for Passover. It’s for survival.

Monday, September 14
I had more people over after Tashlich. I made tiny meatballs, knishes, meat bourekas, some salads, pickled herring from Russ & Daughters that I told everyone I made, a plum cake, a honey cake. I don’t remember. The honey cake came out so dry. It ruined the entire holiday, but it’s fine. I had schnapps. I have a headache and the grandkids keep singing Taylor Swift but don’t worry about it.

Teen Returns from Freshman Year at Oberlin, Rejects Patriarchal Foodstuffs
Shoshana Claire Moskowitz, 18, plans to major in either Rhetoric or Comparative American Studies with a minor in eye-rolling and visible piercings

Sunday, September 13
Rosh Hashanah is a patriarchal holiday and I’m not celebrating it until Palestine is free. I am annoyed that my parents made me come home because FOMO. I said FOMO ironically. But I’m serious. It’s too soon in the school year to come home. My mom served apples and honey and I’m all Hello? Alar much? Do you even know the provenance of this apple? And really nice of you to oppress bees. The bees are totally here to serve you. My mom made dinner but I’m a lacto-ovo-pescetarian now and even if I didn’t tell her that before I came she should have asked. So I went out for Belgian fries with my high school friends but I have nothing in common with them now.

Monday, September 14
I woke up to my parents freaking out about being late for synagogue because God forbid they miss their little fashion show. No time to eat. But thanks for trying to force me, mother. You know I don’t do breakfast and you’d totally love to make me bulimic so you’d have something meaningful to worry about but sorry, not gonna happen. During the service I had some gum. Then during the sermon I found some M&Ms in my purse and they were a little dusty but whatever. After synagogue I needed caffeine so I skipped Tashlich and took the bus—I loathe the bus—downtown to the only adequate indie coffeehouse in town and had black coffee. But then I realized there was no one I knew there so I had a green tea mocha matcha vanilla strawberry cookie crumble frappucino with extra whipped cream and thought about how if I were at school I’d be at Hillel right now and there’s probably a queer Jews and allies event going on there right now, and I’m totally an ally, and maybe there’d also a hot guy there who is also an ally, and I could lick sustainably ethically harvested local voluntarily bee-donated honey off his fingers.

Foodie Reinvents Wheel
Josh Goldstein, 29, lawyer, has thousands of followers on his food Instagram and side-project of photographing his girlfriend in ironic Barbie-like settings

Sunday, September 13
Of course we started with Ottolenghi’s eggplant with buttermilk sauce, za’atar, and pomegranates. How can you not? I’m pretty well-known for it at this point. Then we had quince and veal Chorosht’e Be because I like to introduce my friends and followers to Sephardic foods and, bonus, it will make the animal-rights people eat veal because if they turn it down they’ll be insulting another culture. Last year I made them eat foie gras au torchon with Himalayan pink salt because I told them I got the salt direct from this Sherpa named Tenzin and it would really be insulting the memory of our interaction not to eat it. For the entrée, well, sous-vide turned my world around—I mean, I’m hardly alone in that—so I’m doing a sous-vida rutabaga with harissa-infused treacle and a sous-vide salmon with heirloom nasturtium butter, purple basil chiffonade, and parsnip chips. For dessert I threw together a molecular Asiago Apple Pie with a Goldschlager Orb. It’s a pretty simple calcium lactate bath and some sodium alginate to form the orb, as you probably know. My friend Ben made some ironic Manischewitz cocktails with Benedictine and muddled mint.

Monday, September 14
We went to synagogue and laughed at the kiddush. Oh my god, the little marzipan-striped things in the bright colors? Hysterical. Then we went to Babu Ji. Getting in is not a problem for me. And a Keralan moilee of coconut milk, turmeric, mustard seed and raw scallop is just a cooler version of cholent.

Marjorie Ingall is a former columnist for Tablet, the author of Mamaleh Knows Best, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review.

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