Friday, March 10, 2006

Etrog liqueur

Rachel, an enthusiast of my cooking classes, who recently spent one year in New York with her family while her husband was doing his medical residency (and who never missed a single weekly class), recently invited me to give a demo in her neighborhood in Los Angeles. During my visit, her mother gave me some goodies she grew in her orchard: magnificent citrus, loquats and mint. For the road, she urged me. The whole airplane smelled like heaven.

Rachel’s mother came to New York just a couple of weeks ago, and dropped some more goodies for me, which included 3 spectacular, gigantic etrogim, of a size and caliber nothing short of biblical. I had just seen the movie “Ushpizin”, and couldn’t help thinking these were unquestionably the thousand-shekel etrogim. I was in such awe of them, I was so uneasy about possibly botching such perfect creations I spent a near-sleepless night plotting a concoction that would do them (and their gardener) proud. I resolved to make an Etrog liqueur. Of course I had tried my hand at it several times before, as I was a natural recipient for all the neighbors’ discarded etrogim at the end of each Sukkot holiday. The results were always pleasant but they lacked the brilliance and the uniqueness that make all artisanal preparations, well, artisanal.

Well, this shabbos I served the work-in-progress (ideally, it should steep several months, and my mixture was only about 10 days old). Oh my gosh, it was disappearing so fast I was only able to rescue a small amount, which is now under lock and key while it fully “incubates”. It was voted best etrog liqueur, and it can only get better with time. So, if the final results are as good as the promise they hold, we will share the secret!

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