Some would argue that European peace in the late Middle Ages was brought on by extensive intermarriage between royals of different nation-states. Let us extend this argument and assume that as satiation of certain nobles’ exotic sexual appetites saved the West once, satiation of the common man’s desire for exciting yet comfortably familiar food may save it yet again. This is all to say: Miscegenation of foods can secure peace between peoples.
It has come to my attention that the Asiatic foods have had diplomatic run-ins with a variety of cuisines; from teriyaki spaghetti to paté stuffed spring rolls, its encounters with the culinary Other have been many and fruitful.
A great gap exists, however, in NipponoSinoKorean food policy: It has retained almost no diplomatic ties with the current state of Jewish cuisine. I suggest that now, in honor of the high holiday, these oversights be immediately remedied.
Looking initially at points of possible dialogue, the case seems dire. Pomegranates and dates have little place, as far as I can tell, in the palate of Mongoloid foodstuffs. So, though disastrous for both sides of the family, promises of boundless merit or the consumption of enemies (the respective symbolic value of each fruit) cannot be guaranteed in a multi-ethnic way. More complex combinations, such as red bean rugelach or udon kugel, may be beyond our current means. Initial encounters must be restricted to staples to ensure safety — mastery of these can, if conditions are friendly, yield way to more.
Recipe: Bo Lo Challah.
Yields 16 rolls. Active time: 50 minutes. Actual time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
For Challah Rolls:
3 1/2 cups flour (preferably bread)
1 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1 tsps. salt
2 Tbsps. oil
2 1/2 Tbsps. honey
1. Topping first: mix sugar into butter. To initiate the process, beat both into a fluffy submission. Introduce egg, milk, and baking soda, continuing the homogenization. Slowly introduce flour and baking soda as well. Mix slowly by hand until solid. Chill for at least one hour before use.
2. Now for the bread: Combine yeast, water and the slightest bit of sugar in bowl. Let stand for a few minutes until the yeast bubbles a bit. If there are no bubbles, sound the shofar — your yeast arsenal is full of duds. Lightly grease another large bowl.
3. Stir in the oil, salt and honey. Stir in two egg yolks, but only one egg white — set aside the other white for later.
4. Slowly stir in flour, one half cup at a time. Mix until workable, adding flour if needed, then knead on well-floured surface until elastic.
4. Turn the unformed challah mass gently in new, already oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 30 minutes, ideally in a warm place, such as your dormant oven.
5. While waiting, cross the cultural divide. Retrieve pineapple topping.
6. Roll topping out into a 1/4 inch thick sheet, being careful not to knead it too much. Add a bit of oil if you find it too difficult to work. Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut out circles. Leave these covered if this takes significantly shorter than 20 minutes or so.
5. Back to the dough. Remove from oven, and punch dough down. Now (making sure it is empty) preheat oven to 350. Divide the dough into 16 spheres. Do not forget — for this holiday, they must be round, round, round!
6. Arrange on greased pan, giving them ample space to expand. Let rise for another 10 minutes or so.
7. Lightly beat the egg white you had set aside and brush over rolls. Now for the climax — place topping circles on nascent challah round.
8. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Sleep stuffed and reflective, knowing that dialogue has been initiated between the parties.