Spring Has Sprung - האביב הגיע
The days are getting longer and the weather is finally sunny with a light breeze and no clouds. The plants are starting to wake up. In our courtyard we have a bush with purple and white flowers. The English name of the shrub is ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ - certainly not my favorite - but its Latin name is Brunfelsia latifolia - much nicer. In Hebrew it is called פלוריבונדה (Floribunda), mimicking the sound of the Latin name.
The shrub produces a heady, intoxicating fragrance, much like Jasmine. For the longest time I called it Jasmine until a friend pointed out that the flower shape was all wrong and the leaves weren't waxy enough. Our floribunda is especially sensitive. If it is moved it goes into hibernation for a year and does not produce flowers. It likes warm, not hot weather and it needs to be well watered but not saturated. I have learned to live with it on its terms so that I can enjoy its beauty.
So goes our life here. We have learned, and continue to learn how to adapt to sometimes overbearing circumstances - coping with a new country, a new system, a new language that we speak passably but will never master, and an entirely different sense of social space. I say "new" because Israel will forever be "new to us". We grew up somewhere else. We raised our children, somewhere else. Our families are somewhere else. We are in-comers. But we share this experience with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of others and it is rewarding to push ourselves beyond what is comfortable.
Last night on ליל פסח (Passover night) the whole Jewish world faced a similar challenge. Unable to gather together as we usually do - not usually actually - commanded to do - for the סדר (Seder) we struggled with new technology and yet managed to reinvent ourselves and our way of honoring an ancient practice.
For many families that technology was Zoom. We were nervous that it would be awkward and frankly, dreadful. But it was amazing (and I never use that word). Even my dear Mother-in-Law was able to join. We gathered cousins from across continents and the sheer fact that we were together made the familiar and tired, new again. We sang מה נשתנה (Four Questions) with vigor, albeit with an audio lag.
When I woke up this morning and looked into the courtyard and saw the floribunda in full bloom I knew that spring had arrived. So today, I am moving on to lighter food. It is especially wise now in order to counteract the מצות (Matoh) and the make up for lack of green vegetables - which never make it into the Passover Cookbooks - during this holiday week.
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
NB - Heads up for the Ashkenazi crowd. This recipe is Kosher For Pesach according to the Sephardic rulings. if you now include קטניות (kitniyot - legumes, pulses, grains, etc.) in your Passover diet, then try it out!
BT's Green Spring Celebration
1 extra large leek
1 dark green zucchini
1 jalapeño chili
1 small bunch dino kale
2 1/2 cups (600 grams) frozen green peas
1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon black cardamom seeds
1 very small pinch fiori di finocchietto
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons Arak (any anise liqueur)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or any light vegetable oil)
8 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3-6 grinds of black pepper to taste
Thoroughly wash leek, zucchini and kale
In a heavy gauge pot add oil and turn burner on to medium flame
When oil is hot add nigella seeds, coriander, cardamom and sauté for 1 minute
Slice jalapeño in rings including veins and seeds
Add jalapeño to pot and saute for 1 minute
Add leeks and cook until the whites become translucent - approx 6 minutes
Add zucchini and kale and continuing cooking for 4 more minutes stirring frequently
Add red chili flakes, fiori di finocchietto and salt and cook 1 minute
Add Arak and cook for 3 minutes to burn off alcohol
Add 3 grinds black pepper
Turn heat up to high and bring soup to a boil. When it reaches boiling, cover with lid and turn the burner down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes
When soup is cooked, remove from stove and let cool. When cool use a wand blender and purée
Add 3 more grinds of black pepper
Serve soup with chopped red basil and cilantro and a slice of lemon