As we put away our machzors (prayerbooks) and look towards preparing for Sukkos, I can’t help but feel a little nervous. All the food I prepared for Rosh Hashana and breaking the fast is finished, digested and now a pleasant memory. I worked so hard. I shopped and shlepped. I peeled and chopped. I gave my dishes fanciful names and presented them with pride. I know this time of year is kitchen intensive, but I’m ever amazed that the days go by so quickly and here we are again with Shabbos and yomtov looming.
I should welcome the challenge, and I do, with joy and gratitude in my heart, but it is daunting none the less. How do I reframe my thoughts to help me get back into the kitchen refreshed?
As we recall our fervent Yom Kippur prayers, I imagine that good health for loved ones tops the list. And as we know, with any prayer, we must do our hishtadlus (put in our efforts). If I am praying for vigour and know that diet plays a significant role in achieving it, then my cooking becomes more than a chore. It becomes transcendental.
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes; “Don’t expect to have faith or find God by waiting for him to find us. We have to begin the journey. Then God meets us halfway.” If this is true, then our kitchens become holy space because this is where raw ingredients are transformed into nutrients that delight, comfort and sustain our bodies. How extraordinary.
And yet, there are only so many hours in the day. How do I maximize my efforts while admitting the needle in the tank isn’t on full?
The answer comes to me in my grandmother’s whisper, make Chicken Fricasee. Lots.
Nancy Weisbrod, Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada