HOW YOU break the Yom Kippur fast is more to your bubba than your rabbi.
The Torah instructs Jews to fast -- to practice self-denial, to reflect -- but after the final strains of the shofar , it's a matter of tradition and culture.
The practical qualifications for the post-fast meal will be the same for all. It can't be too heavy; eating a lot after a day of fasting is unwise. It has to be pre-prepared; there is no cooking during the day. And for many, quick energy is the motive: a nibble of sweet or salty food to start, and a stomach settler of tea or wine.
So when Washington's Jewish community breaks the Yom Kippur fast this Thursday evening, besides bagels, cream cheese and herring, there'll be hallah and feta cheese for the Turks, marmelettes for the French, perhaps bollo and sweet vermouth for Italians.
For ACTION community energy project director Frances Luzzatto, Yom Kippur in Venice meant sitting on broad walnut benches in an 18th-century synagogue and rushing home to his Italian-Jewish mamma's sweet rolls and tea. Then came the bowls of chicken soup, an Italian version, of course, floating with tagliolini made perhaps with matzoh meal. Fish with pine nuts and white raisins for a first course, turkey for the main course, and the finish -- zabaione. RESY LUZZATTO'S ZABAIONE
Instead of using a cup to measure her marsala, Resy Luzzatto employed the traditional eggshell method: one half-shell's worth for each yolk. 6 egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 cup marsala or sweet kosher wine (6 half-eggshells' worth)
Place egg yolks in mixing bowl, making sure to reserve a half of one eggshell broken carefully down the middle to measure the wine. Blend the egg yolks and sugar. Beat until thick and pale. Add the wine to the egg and sugar mixture.
Place mixture on the top of a double boiler. Over low heat, making sure it doesn't boil, whisk until it reaches a thick custard consistency. Pour into individual custard cups. Refrigerate and serve.
"Without them I don't have Yom Kippur," insists French-born Hay-Adams Hotel owner Danielle Mosse about her mother's break-the-fast almond and raisin pastries, though she sometimes serves the filling alone. Mosse is so attached to her family's tradition that her mother ships her the sweets from Paris every year. JULIE ELMANEH'S CONFITURE DE RAISINS ET D'AMANDES 2 cups water 1/2 cup Grand Marnier 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups raisins 1 cup unsalted almonds
Combine wsater, Grand Marnier, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat and let boil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add raisins and almonds and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until syrup is like honey. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate. Serve in individual cups (as a symbolic sweet), spread on shortbread cookies or sponge cake, or use as a filling for pastries.
London-born Delia Weiss remembers boiled potatoes and cold boiled carp on her family's break-the-fast table. Or English fish and chips -- translated to fried gefilte fish. ENGLISH FRIED GEFILTE FISH (4 to 6 servings) 2 pounds combined haddock, code and whiting, or 2 pounds of one fish 1 small onion 2 tablespoons matzoh meal plus enough to coat fish Salt and pepper 4 eggs 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar Oil for frying
Process fish and onion through a grinder or food processor. Mix in the matzoh meal, salt, pepper, 2 of the eggs and sugar and form into balls or patties. Heat oil. Beat remaining 2 eggs and dip fish into eggs, then matzoh meal. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Note: If making your own gefilte fish is a bother, it may not be entirely proper by English standards, but try using the jar version. Dip in egg and matzoh meal and try in oil.
For the Mediterranean Jews, called Sephardim, the after-fast meal starts with a pasry and local beverage. For the Turkish, that may mean egg yolks cracked into black coffee, for the Yugoslavs, Serbian plum brandy. From there, fresh vegetable and meat soup, chicken, and for dessert, a return to the pastries. For Moroccan Jew Ginette Spier, it starts with mint tea, saduelos (fried dough whirled in syrup and sugar and cinnamon), sponge cake with orange blossom water and anise and sesame cookies. ANISE AND SESAME COOKIES (Makes 50 cookies) 2 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 cup oil 1 cup water 2 teaspoons baking powder Pinch salt 2 tablespoons anise seed 1 tablespoon plain (not roasted) sesame seeds 5 to 6 cups flour
Mix together all ingredients except flour. Add flour and knead until malleable, about 10 minutes.
Cut dough into 10 or 12 pieces. Roll each piece between palms and the table to form into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Then cut each strip into shorter strips, 7 inches long. Loop each into a circle.
Put cookies on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Adapted from Ginette Spier
Russian Jew Lina Bernstein immigrated to Hyattsville two years ago. This year's break-the-fast borscht has come a long way. LINA BERNSTEIN'S BORSCHT (10 to 12 servings) 3 large beets, peeled 1 gallon cold water 2 large potatoes, peeled 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar 3 cucumbers, peeled and diced 2 6-ounce packages radishes, diced 1 bunch scallions, diced Fresh parsley and dill to taste 5 or 6 hard-cooked eggs 1 1/2 cups sour cream
Place beets into a large pot with cold water. Boil for 25 minutes. Add the potatoes and boil for another 25 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Remove beets and potatoes. Puree the beets and mash the potatoes. Return beets and potatoes to water.
Add the lemon juice, salt and sugar to the pot and bring to a quick boil. Remove from heat. Cool.
When soup is cold, add cut cucumbers, radishes, scallions, parsley and dill. At serving time, add half of a hard-cooked egg and a tablespoon of sour cream to each bowl.
Manischewitz products haven't hit South America yet, says Dr. Samuel Stoleru, so when he was growing up in Cali, Columbia, everything was homemade. That included the Yom Kippur honey cake, veal dumplings, cabbage soup with kreplach and chicken with garlic and onions. But first at the Stolerus' there was always sponge cake. ELKA STOLERU'S SPONGE CAKE 5 eggs, separated 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 orange peel, grated Juice of 1/2 orange 1/2 lemon peel, grated Juice of 1/2 lemon 3/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Add egg yolks to half of the sugar and beat until thick and yellow. Add juices and peels and continue beating.Add flour, baking powder and oil. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and add remaining sugar, beating until the mixture reaches a marshmallow consistency. Fold whites into batter. Bake in tube pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
For Ashkenasie Jews, a dairy meal with soup or fish is common -- a carryover from the common diet of their Easern European ancestors. My mother, a balabusta in her own right, has copied only some dishes from her Roumanian bubba. At our house, the day's fast was broken with gefilte fish and Philadelphia's version of chicken soup and kugel. LOUISE SUGARMAN'S FRUIT KUGEL (12 servings) 1 pound medium or broad noodles, cooked 1 stick butter or margarine, melted 4 eggs beaten 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup sour cream 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced or thinly sliced 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, juice included 1 cup dried apricots, cut up (optional) 1/2 cup white raisins 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar
In a large bowl, combine cooked noodles with melted butter and eggs. Mix in sugar, sour cream, fruit and raisins. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over noodles. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.