I woke up this morning, in New York, trying to remember last night’s dinner. It was mostly non-traditional, or a mix of many traditions, although Ilana, our hostess, said she was trying to make all the traditional foods. We began dinner in the traditional Jewish way, with a blessing over the bread, a beautifully shaped round whole grain loaf. Each person gets a piece and has to take at least one bite to complete the ritual. I was really hungry after an inadequate lunch on the airplane and ate the entire slice. The first two courses, served to us at the table, were a simple, but tasty, onion soup and a green salad with grape tomatoes. After that we were asked to serve ourselves, buffet style.
We had a vegetarian turkey purchased from a wonderful vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Teaneck: Veggie Heaven. This is one of my all-time favorite places. I don’t know how they do it, but they have chicken, shrimp, lobster and beef all made of tofu or wheat gluten. The amazing thing is that all these things taste the way they are supposed to. I’m sure they are not substituting the real thing: they are certified kosher and have rabbinical inspection of their kitchen.
The turkey looked more like a chicken, but in any case, it looked and tasted like a bird. It was stuffed with some kind of rice blend. Ilana made cranberry sauce, which, along with the salad and the pumpkin pie, were the most traditional items. She made cornbread out of blue corn flour; a tofu and vegetable pie that looked almost like a pizza; pumpkin ravioli that I guess are also traditional, but not in my family; a casserole, or kugel, of pureed squash; steamed, sliced carrots and white potatoes; and, I think, a kind of rice pilaf, or maybe that was the stuffing from the turkey.
Dessert was a choice of grapes, a mix of raspberries and blueberries, and the pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Pumpkin pie is one of the few foods (desserts) I can leave alone. I am grateful there is at least one. My mother never made it; I think she didn’t like pumpkin. She always made wonderful lemon meringue pies for Thanksgiving dessert. I like pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, soda or yeast. Robin makes a fabulous pumpkin challah. Thinking about it I guess I don’t like the texture of pumpkin pie.
I tried very hard not to overeat, but I did taste everything. I love trying new food. We finished our dinner with prayers thanking God for the blessings of the meal, also traditional. Later there was tea or coffee in the living room with biscotti we brought from Enrico’s in Pittsburgh.
At the end of the evening, Ron, our host, drove another guest and me, into New York. My final treat came as we crossed the George Washington Bridge and it was completely lit up and beautiful, as I originally saw it from my apartment in Fort Lee. I could even see it reflected in the river after we had crossed. They were repainting it during the last few years I lived in Fort Lee, and the lights were out, so this was very special for me.