Grapevine: Jewish penicillin a la Golda

One can only guess whether or not Golda Meir also served her ministers chicken soup.

Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon walk in Sinai in 1973 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon walk in Sinai in 1973 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
The papal Twitter feed launched this week had resonance for millions of Catholics and other Christians around the world, but for Jews the most important item on the Internet over the past week or two was a taste of tradition.
Regardless of political upheavals at home and abroad, what caught the attention of so many people was the release by the Israel State Archives of the recipe that Golda Meir used to make her chicken soup.
The recipe will be familiar to almost anyone whose regular Friday night menu includes chicken soup, but perhaps of greater interest than the recipe itself is the fact that it was typed in English on a Foreign Ministry letterhead, presumably by the legendary Lou Kedar, who was Golda’s faithful long term secretary for some three decades.
One of the things that Golda was famous for was her kitchen cabinet, which actually met in her kitchen rather than her office. It’s known that she served her cabinet members cake that had just come out of the oven.
One can only guess whether or not she also served her ministers chicken soup.
For readers who might be interested in Golda’s chicken soup, which was probably gleaned from something handed down by her mother, here it is, verbatim as it appeared in its typewritten version. Note the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew words, and the slight lack of logic towards the end of the recipe.Golda Meir’s recipe for chicken soup ‘Boil the chicken with parsley, celery, cut-up carrots, peeled onion, salt, pepper a pinch of paprika until the chicken is tender.
If you like rice, you may add it after straining the soup, bring to boil for another quarter of an hour.
Mrs Meir generally serves chicken soup with kneidlach which she prepares as follows: The matzos (unleavened bread) are soaked in cold water till soft, then squeeze dry, crush with a fork and add fried onions and a little oil, some parsley, salt, pepper and two beaten eggs.
Add enough matzo meal for binding. Make into small balls, set aside for serving for one hour.
Half an hour before serving, drop the balls into the boiling soup and cook for about half an hour.’
In typical Jewish fashion, there’s no mention of quantities, though any good cook knows that the more carrots there are in the soup, the better it tastes, and the addition of parsnip and turnip enhances it even more.
As for the kneidlach, it’s hard to tell until one actually follows the recipe whether Golda’s kneidlach were feather light or cannon balls.
Interestingly, given the generation in which she was raised, she used oil instead of the then-popular rendered chicken fat, better known by its Yiddish name of schmaltz. In addition, not every traditional cook would include fried onions and parsley.
But there must have been more to these kneidlach and chicken soup than meets the eye or the palate, otherwise why would the document have remained classified until 34 years after Golda’s death?
■ ASIA WAS in the spotlight in Israel this week with a number of events: the arrival of a delegation of Chinese billionaires; a reception hosted by Thai Ambassador Jukr Boon Long in honor of the 85th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is currently the world’s longest reigning monarch; a dinner hosted by Korean Ambassador Ilsoo Kim to celebrate the strengthening of cultural ties in the jubilee year of diplomatic ties between Korea and Israel; the presentation of credentials by India’s new ambassador Jaideep Sarkar and in the evening of that day, the celebration of the 79th birthday of the emperor of Japan hosted at the Japanese residence by Ambassador Hideo Sato.
Kim was somewhat miffed by the fact that President Shimon Peres had attended the reception for the Chinese billionaires, as well as another Chinese reception some six weeks earlier as part of the festivities marking 20 years of diplomatic ties between China and Israel, and had also been the guest of honor at the Japanese reception, but had not been at any of the events highlighting 50 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and Israel.
He seemed to have forgotten that Peres visited Korea two years ago, and that this was more significant than attending a reception.
■ AT THE Thai reception at the Dan Hotel, Tel Aviv, Shmuel Morgan of the Foreign Ministry’s Protocol Department, for the second time in the space of a week, had to read an English translation of the minister’s speech because Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias, who represented the government, is apparently not sufficiently fluent in English to be able to read the text prepared by the Foreign Ministry. He had to do the same for another Shas minister the previous week.
It is to be hoped that if Shas is part of the new government coalition, that at least one of its ministers will have a sufficient grasp of English, so as to spare Morgan the trouble of having to once again read a translation.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday has consistently been an occasion for a series of Thai ambassadors to promote their country as a popular tourist destination and in this respect Boon Long was no exception.
Let’s face it, Israelis do love Thailand and they love Thai cuisine, which Boon Long’s guests got to sample. The buffet included many tropical fruits not usually seen in Israel.
The Thais genuinely love their king who has been closely involved with numerous projects to better the quality of life of his people.
They’re also very proud of the fact that of all living reigning monarchs, he is the oldest and has reigned the longest – even longer than Britain’s Queen Victoria who was on the throne for 63 years and seven months.
Britain’s current Queen, Elizabeth II, has reigned for 60 years and 10 months.
Other long-reigning monarchs have included King Olav V of Norway died at 87 in January 1991 after a 33-year reign. He became the world’s oldest reigning monarch after the death in January 1989, of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, who died at 88 following a 63-year reign. But Bhumibol has reigned since June 1946, which gives him a three-year edge over his closest predecessor.
Boon Long is getting ready to celebrate the 60th anniversary in March 2014 of Thailand’s diplomatic relations with Israel, by upgrading the volume and variety of Thai cultural events throughout 2013.
■ MANY EMBASSIES are placing greater emphasis on bringing exponents of their countries’ cultures to Israel. In an era in which everyone wore distinctive national costumes, there was perhaps less need for cultural identity, but of all the foreign communities living in Israel, only the Indians continue to dress in their traditional garments nearly all the time.
Some of the Indian men wear Western suits, but when Sarkar presented his credentials, he wore a dark Nehru suit as did all the men in his delegation, whereas all the women wore saris. Sarkar, as well as another Indian guest, were still wearing their Nehru suits later at the Japanese reception.
■ FORMER PRIME minister Ehud Olmert is not exactly in the category of a warm-up act, but that’s what he inadvertently became at the Japanese reception. Olmert and his wife, Aliza, have graced the Japanese residence on previous occasions, but this time, because of his controversial comments in US earlier in the week about the government and E1, he was instantly surrounded by both admirers and critics, and was the hub of attention until Peres arrived.
The formal part of the evening began as usual with the playing of the anthems of both countries. Unlike some of his colleagues, Sato does not rely on canned music, but had a string quartet.
The very gentle, but moving Japanese anthem was softly and sweetly sung by Japanese guests and embassy staff who were positioned in all directions. Sato also sang his country’s anthem and then sang “Hatikva.”
Although he delivered his address in English, Sato quoted from a cable sent by David Ben-Gurion 60 years ago to then-Japanese prime minister Yoshida Shigeru, which he read in Hebrew.
He noted that Japan had been the first country in Asia to recognize the fledgling State of Israel, and had also been the first to enter into diplomatic relations with Israel.
Sato thanked Israel for its support and solidarity when Japan in March last year experienced a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Reconstruction has since moved at a rapid pace he said, but Japan is not just reconstructing, it is building a new Japan.
With specific reference to relations with Israel, Sato was pleased that the level of Japanese studies in Israel is now on a par with studies of the US and Europe.
Bilateral trade has exceeded $3 billion, but Sato declared that the economic potential between the two countries had not been sufficiently exploited. Future plans in this context, include a Free Trade Agreement.
The future of Israel lies in regional cooperation, he said, and for this to happen, the Arab/Israel conflict must be resolved. Japan’s contribution towards this aim has been the establishment of the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park which will help the Palestinians towards economic sustainability.
The first phase of the park is nearing completion and nearly 40 business entities have expressed their willingness to be part of the project said Sato, who expects these businesses to begin operating early next year.
Peres praised Japan for its contribution towards Middle East peace, especially the development of the peace corridor in Jericho, which he said was one of the most successful endeavors in the Middle East.
On a more personal level he observed that in Japanese tradition, people are reborn after reaching the age of 60.
“I love this tradition because it makes me feel like a young man of 30,” said the 89- year-old president who conveyed his good wishes to Emperor Akihito who is 10 years younger In general, Peres leaves functions almost immediately after the formalities or even in the middle of the formalities, but this time, he stayed for quite a while afterwards, mobbed by the crowd, with people queuing up to be photographed with him, even when they didn’t exchange a single word with him.
■ AN OLD adage frequently quoted by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon over the past day or two is “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”
Ayalon has been using it as a face-saver in interviews about how he felt when advised by his boss Avigdor Liberman that he was not on the party list for the Knesset elections.
Speculation over the reason that Ayalon was dropped has centered on two issues – the first being the Turkish debacle in which Ayalon publicly humiliated the Turkish ambassador, and the consequences of that action; and the second being that Ayalon allegedly boasted that in the event that Liberman would have to step down if charged with corruption, that he, Ayalon, would be acting foreign minister.
But there may well be a third reason that can be attributed to the evils of modern technology. In the social media world of Facebook, Twitter, et al, Ayalon was among those public figures who, like Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel of old, was all over the place, giving rise to a steady stream of self aggrandizement inspired by the original text: “They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek him everywhere...”
Nobody had to seek Ayalon. He was here, there and everywhere, seemingly upstaging Liberman.
Members of the Foreign Ministry were somewhat shocked when Liberman announced the list on Tuesday night, and several said that they were too embarrassed to face the deputy minister. They were initially spared that experience, because Ayalon left for the Czech Republic and Germany with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and thus there was no chance of anyone bumping into him in the corridors of the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
Even though he is putting on a brave front, dismissal is not what he expected for his 57th birthday on December 17. Still, Ayalon, who is of Algerian descent on his father’s side, may not find himself jobless. Inter alia, he has been very active in efforts for Jews from Arab lands in their quest to receive compensation for property that was confiscated from them in the lands from which they fled or from which they were expelled. It’s quite possible that he may find himself professionally employed to continue doing this.
■ REGULAR SHOPPERS at the Supersol (Shufersal) chain know that every December when their bill is toted up at the check-out counter, they are asked to purchase a heartshaped pin. The proceeds go to Variety, the organization that is dedicated to adding quality to the lives of children with special needs.
Proceeds from pin sales this year will be channeled towards children in the south of the country who have had a really tough and traumatic time in recent months.
“We decided to focus this year’s golden heart campaign on children in the conflict zone, in the hope of adding a little sweetness to their lives,” said Variety Chairman Ori Slonim.
Supersol CEO Yitzhak Abercohen noted that this is the 20th consecutive year in which the company is joining forces with Variety to bring some joy to children with special needs. The campaign which will be launched on December 9 will continue until December 18.
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