Shofar Blowing and Food Friday
It’s Elul, the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah. Elul is traditionally a time of introspection. For me it is especially so.
My father died on the fourth of Elul. The year after my father died my rabbi asked me to be one of the shofar blowers for Rosh HaShanah. My father was our shul’s shofar blower. My father was a barrel chested man and would blow the shofar with great gusto and power. His face would turn entirely red as he blew the blasts. I was always worried for my father as he blew shofar, would the sound be a good one? would he keel over from the effort?
I was very touched when my rabbi asked me to blow shofar. I had never done it it public before but I figured that with practice I could produce a good sound.
So starting that year after my father died I used to call my mother and have her listen to my practice. Especially as she grew less verbal, it was a way to connect to her in a deep way. Often when I picked up the phone after I had finished blowing shofar I would hear that my mother had been crying. She would always thank me for including her in my practice.
There is a custom to blow shofar at the end of shaharit/morning services during the month of Elul. I have been one of the people asked to blow shofar this month. It has been such a powerful way to connect to my father and to my memories of him during the month of his death.
Today as I was putting dessert together, I could not help but remember my mother. One of her standard summer desserts was a simple cake made out of two layers of batter that sandwich a layer of fruit.
My mother used to bake hers in a square pan. My mother always carefully followed recipes, although she might play with a flavorings a bit ( a full teaspoon of cinnamon rather than a 1/2 teaspoon or she might add some shakes of orange peel that hadn’t been called for in the recipe) I thought about my mother as I completely faked one of those old fashioned cakes that are close relatives of puddings. I whipped up four eggs, added a cup of sugar and mixed with a mixer until the mixture was thick. I added ( slowly) a cup of flour, a bit of salt, a tea spoon of baking powder some olive oil and vanilla. it looked right.
I had previously pitted what was left from a big bag of cherries and cut up four peaches and covered the fruit with some sugar. I put half the batter in the bottom of the pan, added in all of the fruit and then topped with what was left of the batter. I remembered that my mother used to sprinkle the tops of such cakes with sugar and cinnamon so I did the same.
I have a nice old fashioned dessert to serve tonight. it’s the sort of thing my mother would have made, but baked in the way that my my father would have. All in al a fitting tribute.
What else are we serving tonight?
Rice baked with the couscous spices our friend sent us from Paris.
I also made idiot chicken, that is chicken with Herbes Provencal and the juice from a bunch of tired looking lemons and limes.
I roasted the kale for a giant salad which has yet to be made.