Short Order: Food first, then the 'Jewish goodbye'

'Doesn't the Jewish goodbye make you want to scream?"

roast chicken 88 (photo credit: )
roast chicken 88
(photo credit: )
'Doesn't the Jewish goodbye make you want to scream?" a friend of somewhat impatient character burst out after I had shut the door on the second-last departing dinner guest. "Personally, I wish you could get an inoculation against it, like the flu shot."
I had to laugh, but I knew what he was referring to: the way we Jews can never just take leave of each other after a social get-together, but advance gradually to the front door in a process that involves regrouping every few meters for yet another mini-conversation. I've known Jewish goodbyes to take half an hour, with coats and hats already on.
We discussed the phenomenon for 10 more minutes; after which he, too, left.
Another thing this friend finds temperamentally challenging is drawn-out sitting around before a meal, even when all the guests are present.
"I mean, is it in the etiquette books? Whether the invitation is for Friday night dinner or Shabbat lunch, people are usually hungry. Conversation tends to be better and more animated once you're tucking in."
Here I could empathize to an extent, having on occasion sat exchanging pleasantries for up to an hour before being invited to begin a meal, even when it's clear everything's ready and waiting and everybody's there.
As in most things, moderation must rule, although at my place I tend to chivvy guests to the table sooner rather than later. So far, no one's complained.
I'VE JUST returned from England bearing a filling supper recipe from my sister-in-law, Renata Lowy:
FISH IN A DISH500 gr. fresh filleted salmon or any thick white fish4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped4 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed with butter, milk, salt and pepper to tastecheese sauce:50 gr. butter100 gr. white flour11⁄2 to 2 cups milk200 gr. cheddar cheese, grated
Cook the fish in the microwave, or steam it. Remove any skin and flake the fish. For the sauce: Melt the butter, then add the flour and the milk, stirring continuously until it thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and season to taste.
Add the fish and eggs to the sauce, mixing well. Check the seasoning. Pour into an oven dish and top with the potato. (Optional: sprinkle with a little extra cheese). Bake, uncovered, at 190 for about 20 minutes.
I GOT a gentle taste of Indian-Iraqi Jewish cooking in a Jerusalem home one recent Friday night, and reflected that this pleasing dish was something even a dyed-in-the wool "Ashkenazi" cook might like to try. Serve it with - what else? - unstinting amounts of rice.
The recipe comes from Awafi ("Your health!"), compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary of Sydney, Australia.
CHICKEN ROAST1 chicken, jointed1 level tsp. ginger1⁄2 tsp. fresh garlic, crushed1⁄2 tsp. turmeric1 tsp salt, or to taste1⁄2 tsp. black pepper1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon1⁄2 tsp. cardamom (hel)1⁄4 cup oil1 cup water
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces. Mix the ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper in a cup of water and pour over the chicken. Let it cook for a few minutes, then add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the underside of the chicken is lightly browned. If needed, raise the heat.
Allow to cool, turn the chicken over and return to medium heat to brown the other side. (Optional: Add some baby onions and/or potatoes at the beginning.)
FOR SHABBAT lunch the next day I was treated to an excellent eggplant starter, of which I took a second helping despite the fact that I had a cold and my appetite wasn't up to par. "Make this with a young, fresh and firm specimen," my hostess advised.
OH! IT'S AUBERGINE 1 medium eggplanta little olive oilcanola oil to taste1 medium onion, roughly choppedsalt and pepper to taste
Prick the eggplant with a fork in a few places and put it in the microwave for about 6 minutes - 3 on each side - until it is quite soft. Allow to cool and put the flesh only in the blender with the onion, oil and seasoning to taste; process until smooth. Serve with halla or crackers and a crisp garden salad.
I recently saw this dish on a restaurant menu billed as "Ageplant Salad."