Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fast Food

At sundown tonight we, like other observant Jews around the world, begin a 25 hour fast in observance of Yom Kippur. Not surprisingly, all I can think about is food.When I am healthy I find fasting to be a very intense but satisfying experience which is magnified by being in community with others who are in the same place.

Yom Kippur is an intense day and removing distractions (like eating) does help me focus on the spiritual work of the day. I don't have too much trouble fasting apart from the demon caffeine but I've been 100% decaf for months now so I don't expect any raging headaches. However, this will be the first year both of my boys will join me in the fast. As one pointed out, this milestone is the down side of the bar mitzvah. I am concerned about how they will handle and have tried to make sure they go into this well fed and happy--or as happy as teens can be when stuck in services all day long.

When I asked what they wanted for their last meal, brisket was promptly suggested. I ordered a 4 pound hunk of beef from our local natural foods store and sent The Spouse to pick it up the other night. They couldn't find the reserved brisket under his name or under mine, but finally handed him the wrapped meat that had been set aside for "Nice Lady" which I found most amusing. I'm so glad someone thinks so.

I fast best when I've eaten heartily the day before, not just just that final dinner, but the entire day. I craved something substantial but not bland when I woke up on this cool and foggy morning. Remembering the fresh chiles I picked up at the farmers market last weekend, I dug through the sheaf of recipes adorning my refrigerator to find a small slip of paper I picked up from the chile roaster at a different farmers market a few weeks ago. (Yes, we are blessed with an abundance of wonderful farmers markets here in Portland).

The recipe for green chile and potato gratin couldn't be simpler but the results are spectacular. I like potatoes in almost any form (though frozen and reheated is spud abuse) but this preparation yielded an especially fabulous result. The potatoes were lovely and soft with a slightly chewy top surface and the flavor of the chiles was vibrant and delicious. I had a hard time not eating the entire pan today. You'll find the recipe here.

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