My best buddy, Dana invited us over for a Hanukah brunch. I have never been to one and was excited, of course to help celebrate with Dana’s family, but also for the potato latkes (with sour cream and smoked salmon!)
I know that this time of year, all the high holidays for that matter, can be a sort of sad time for Dana. Similar to the way I felt at Thanksgiving, she misses being near her family back in the States and celebrating in a more meaningful way. And she misses the very active Temple she and her kids belonged to in Minnesota.
Dana asked me to make a soup to bring to the buffet. I meditated on the soup for a couple of days, then came up with cream of celeriac soup finished with crunchy pancetta (‘you are serving pancetta at a Hanukah party?’ Yes, Dana said it was cool; she is that far removed from the traditional Hanukah meal…). Anyway, I made it a couple of days ago, and it was good, but not great.
So, yesterday when I was at the market buying the ingredients that I needed to make the mediocre celeriac soup again, I completely punted and decided to make a warm Mexican dip instead. Hold on, this may sound like Super Bowl fare, but here in Switzerland we can’t find Mexican ingredients and I had brought some dried chilis back from the States with me this summer, so having a dip like this is actually a real treat.
Dana was out all day, so when I talked to her last night she sounded rather disappointed not to have the expected, heretical celeriac and pancetta soup. Hmph!
At 5:52 a.m. this morning I woke up feeling rather guilty (an emotion I am not used to. At first I thought it was indigestion…). Was I adding to Dana’s melancholy at Hanukah? I rolled out of bed and went down to the kitchen.
In the freezer I found some good, homemade chicken stock and some nice baby spinach. In the fridge I found some fresh green beans, tomato paste and a wedge of Parmesan cheese. In the pantry I had a tin of diced tomatoes and a tin of kidney beans. And on my counter lay a few new potatoes, a head of garlic and some onions. I had the makings of a solid minestrone.
By 7:30 a.m. the soup was done and smelling fine. It wasn’t perfect, I didn’t have any fresh basil, but it tasted really good. It tasted like friendship.