Jewzilians, Jewmaicans, and More
One of the greatest things I discovered as I collected family traditions (see yesterday’s post) was the diversity of Jewish families that are out there today. My own Eastern-European family acquired a Brazilian infusion courtesy of my husband and in-laws, … Read More
One of the greatest things I discovered as I collected family traditions (see yesterday’s post) was the diversity of Jewish families that are out there today. My own Eastern-European family acquired a Brazilian infusion courtesy of my husband and in-laws, leading my friends to dub our daughter "the Jewzilian." Our holiday celebrations now routinely include cachaca (a particularly potent sugarcane alcohol) and have increased in decibels from merely "loud" to "eardrum-shattering." On the flip side, my Brazilian-born father-in-law now regularly uses the word "machetunim" and has developed an obsession with mandelbrot.
One of my best friends, Susie, has the distinct pleasure of being nicknamed the "Jewmaican," as testament to her Jewish father and Jamaican mother. Her family regularly celebrates Jewish holidays with the traditional…rice and peas? It may not be Jewish traditional, but it’s Jamaican traditional. They fused their cultures to create a tradition that recognized all aspects of their family, and I love that.
Food truly is a great connector. It connects us not only to other cultures but to our own as well. As most of us know, the Jewish religion emphasizes the act of inviting people into your home for meals. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of non-Jewish friends I have who were just as excited as my tribe members about JCBC. I mean, is there really a better comfort food than matzo ball soup?
One of the most powerful stories in the book comes from Nancy Ratzan, an incredible woman who is the current President of the National Council of Jewish Women (and who happened to write a beautiful foreword for the book). In her position she often travels around the world, meeting with other religious and political leaders. In 2003 she found herself in rural China, investigating the role the UN plays in Chinese family planning. As she went door-to-door in an area where the annual family income is less than $300, she was invited into a multi-generational home of a local family and asked to stay for lunch. Though she politely declined, they insisted she stay to taste a bite of their freshly baked food. With her first bite, Nancy turned to the translator and had him explain that it tasted exactly like the popovers her Eastern-European Jewish grandmother used to make. Through the translator she exchanged recipes with the Chinese grandmother. They were the same.
If that’s not an incredible connection, I don’t know what is.
In honor of my "Jewzilian" family, our favorite drink…
Makes: 1 drink
4 teaspoons sugar (or 2 1/2 packets Splenda or other artificial sweetener)
Cachaça (or Vodka)
- Cachaca is very easy to find these days (51 and Leblon are both good brands) and comes in Kosher form for those who need it.
- If cachaca’s not for you just sub in vodka (also easily found in kosher varieties) and your caipirinha becomes a caipiroska.
- You can use anything from a tumbler to a highball to a goblet to make this drink, but be sure your glass has a thick bottom and plenty of room for ice.
- Caipirinhas (and Caipiroskas) are best when very cold, so as your ice melts, continue to add more ice to keep your drink cold.
- Cut the lime in half lengthwise and squeeze the juice from each half into a glass, using a lime squeezer.
- Take the remnants of the lime and cut each side in half and then into thirds, and add them to the glass.
- Add the sugar or Splenda. You can add more or less sugar depending on personal preference.
- Use a masher or wooden spoon to mash the sugar into the lime wedges as you stir.
- Eyeball the amount of liquid now in the glass, and add a little less than that amount of Cachaça.
- Use your masher to continue mashing the ingredients while stirring.
- Fill the glass with ice and let the drink sit for a few minutes to chill.