IN THE GRAIN:Childhood hamentashen

Growing up in a Jewish community predominantly of Lithuanian and Russian descent in the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville meant that on Purim you ate hamentashen made from yeast dough.

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February 14, 2018 17:48
Hamentashen

Hamentashen. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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What is your earliest childhood memory of Purim? Was it your first “grogger,” that raucous contraption-on-a-handle that you let rip every time the name of Haman (the Purim villain) was mentioned in the synagogue? Or perhaps your first Queen Esther costume? My earliest childhood Purim memory is waking up to a nutty, yeasty smell gently wafting from a cloth-covered ceramic bowl in our kitchen, permeating our entire apartment.

Growing up in a Jewish community predominantly of Lithuanian and Russian descent in the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville meant that on Purim you ate hamentashen made from yeast dough. Dough was prepared the night before and allowed to rise slowly overnight. Early on Purim morning, my mother would roll the dough out into rounds, fill each with a healthy dollop of mohn (minced poppy seeds boiled in milk and honey) or cream cheese filling, and then gather the ends together, forming a triangle shape supposedly resembling Haman’s hat, or as some say – his ears! These were then baked and if you thought the nutty yeast smell was good...

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