Ari Miller // Tel Aviv, Israel
“How dare you abandon your Jewish roots for your American ones?” asked tradition, rasping on my neurotic brain. I cowered, apologetic to the voices of millions who demanded acknowledgement. And poppy seeds.
Those wonderful, miniature black pearls that add flavor, texture and fear of drug testing had demands of their own: ham and pineapple. You know who knows what goes best with poppy seeds? Why, poppy seeds, of course! The Hawaiian Purim cookie was nice but not the proper tribute to a Persian Hitler. Yeah, I guess I do have a thing for those kids’ stories after all.
Swine blood was in order. Obviously.
Off to La Maison I went, where, since they’re the best charcuterie in Tel Aviv, they make the best boudin noir (blood sausage) in town. Scraped out of its natural pork-intestine casing, I mixed in some citrus peels to lighten the mix and repeated that familiar act of cutting out circles of buttery dough, rolling balls of the blood sausage with my increasingly purple-stained fingers, forming three corners with three pinches just like my mom showed me as a child, pulling them hot from the oven and then dusting with cacao.
Ha! It looked just like a chocolate Purim cookie. And while there was full disclosure to avoid any unintended transgressions of vegetarianism, those who took a bite most often did so with an apprehensive look framing their pie-holes. Excellent. This cookie is the ever-lasting legacy of one of the first to take a genocidal stab against the Jewish folk. Fear is essential.
But most everyone smiled for having interacted with such a familiar food in such a unique new way. This is an important point because, in the end, it is just a god-damned cookie.
Ari Miller is a writer in Tel Aviv who spends most of his time in the kitchen. Most recently he worked in the kitchen at The Minzar and at his bakery, Food Underground. Currently he works as the junior cook at Oasis, the newly opened restaurant in Tel Aviv. His writing has most recently appeared, translated, in the Hebrew men’s magazine Blazer.