Saturday, March 15, 2008
RENA'S ANNUAL CHICKEN FRICASEE DINNER
This past Wednesday evening I held my "Annual Chicken Fricasee Dinner". And what is that - you might well ask. I like "poor people's food". I eat steaks and roasts and grilled salmon - well, I eat just about everything - as you will have gathered from reading this blog regularly. But what I really love is food that has to be cooked long and slow - dishes that were created to stretch what available food there was to feed lots and lots of people.
After all - what is gefilte fish? Fish that is ground up with onions and matza meal and eggs, formed into "kneidlach" (balls) and poached in a broth made with the bones and heads (the best part!!) and will feed many more people than just the one whole fish served plain. Or chopped liver - chicken livers sauteed and then ground up with eggs and onions and "schmaltz" (chicken fat). And stews? And hearty soups?
And chicken fricasee. A soupy, stewy sort of dish made with chicken giblets - necks and hearts and pupicks (gizzards) and feeslach (chicken feet!!) and wings and little meat balls mixed with rice and a gravy made with loads and loads of onions.
But even before you can begin to cook the fricasee you have to clean all the bits and pieces. Myra found the chicken feet for me in the shuk (open air market). She brought me more than two kilos (over four pounds) which cost the grand sum of 10 Israeli shekels - less than 4 American dollars. There were 82 feet - and I cleaned each and every one. That took four hours. Then I cleaned two kilos - each - of hearts and necks and pupicks and wings which took another four hours. Then I made 60 meatballs - hours more work. And only then did I begin to cook.
Was it worth it? You'll have to ask Myra and Ros and Marallyn and Anne (Bubbie) and Corinne - but not while they're eating. They inhaled the food - it disappeared in no time flat. I only invite those friends who love fricasee - love eating with their fingers and gnawing on the bones. There ain't no other way. For four of us it was a reminder of our middle-European, Ashkenazi backgrounds. Myra, who was born in Israel to German parents and never ate that at home loves the dish. But the most surprising is Corinne - who is Egyptian / Turkish and was born in the Sudan - she inhales it along with rest of us. They're all looking forward to next year - when my fingernails (I ruined my manicure) and I will have recovered from this year's production.
My brother, David, is arriving tomorrow - that's one of his favorite dishes. So - there's fricasee waiting for him in the freezer. And Riva - who is arriving from Canada next week - also has a "care package" waiting for her in the freezer.
I have a really busy week ahead of me. David and I have to catch up on everything - although thanks to SKYPE and emails we speak all the time. But there's nothing like face-to-face. We'll visit friends, eat, talk, and just hang out. Then there's the party I'm throwing for him on Thursday. Then there's dinner at his in-laws in Nes Ziona. Then the Bar Mitzva of his second grandson in Rehovot. Then the Bar Mitzva party in Gannot and then he leaves again. That was quick.
So - I know you'll understand if I don't write for about ten days. Then I'll tell you all about his visit and about my party and what I cooked.
By the way - I just noticed that this is my 103rd blog - who would have thought I had so much to say - and so many people who enjoy reading it?
I was looking to see what the weather is in Jerusalem in July, as my husband and I are coming to visit my aunt and cousins from July 8 thru July 14th. I came upon your blogs and starting reading them, and am already getting addicted to hearing about your life in Jerusalem.
I picked this blog to comment on for 2 reasons. First, because I noticed it was on my 60th birthday, and second, because I absolutely love any dish that is slow cooked, and I became fascinated with your description of the preparation, and with you.
So I have a fantasy of going to Caffit, and hanging out with you for awhile, but then I realized 2 things. First, all I know about what you look like is you don't wear glasses, and I think you have alot of hair. Second, I have no idea if you would even like to meet us, as you know nothing about us except that my family lives in Jerusalem. We'll be coming from Greece where my husband is teaching about energy issues, and we will only be in Jerusalem for 5 or 6 days. So if you see 2 people at Caffit, a man with curly silver hair, about 5'10", and a woman slender,about 5'7", with coppery, curlyish hair(depending on the weather), wave us down if we look interesting to you, o.k.?
Thanks for bringing a little Israel into my mundane U.S. existence.
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