Friday, October 14, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Five (Breaking the Fast for Yom Kippur)

This is a guest post by my very dear friend, Anna Collins.

The Perfect Meal to Break the Fast
 This year on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, I fasted as required by tradition.  Then, I broke my fast with spelt.  Let me be more exact --  I broke my fast with the most delicious slice of Spelt Right pizza one could imagine -- a slice filled with the flavors of mushrooms, garlic, three types of cheese, and fresh basil.  

It was also a slice filled with something more -- something that cannot be easily described.

I do not find fasting to be an easy task, but it is something I look forward to because it is transformative.  Modern life is a rushed enterprise, even if one fails to embrace its speed and works to rebel against its multi-tasking nature.  Fasting forces one to observe one's struggle with modernity from the outside, looking in.  As I fast, I becomes aware of my humanity, my frailty, and my dependence on the things that are easy to take for granted in a society still far more privileged than most.  

This year on Yom Kippur, when it was time to break the fast, I found myself with a slice of spelt pizza in my hands.  This was not just any slice.  This was a slice made by a dear friend, someone who has treated me and my family as extended family.  As I ate that slice of pizza, I thought about our friendship -- its history, its dynamics, its future.  I also thought about how fortunate I am to know my friend.  We may have our differences, but we care for each other.  That is something I will not take for granted.

Today, as I consider the moment I broke the fast, I realize something else.  In some parts of the world, my friend and I would not be able to easily share a meal.  Some would consider our cultural heritage too conflicting.  My friend is of Christian Middle-Eastern decent, and I am native Russian Jewish.  The fact that I broke the fast with food she made is powerful, perhaps even transformative.  It is hard to name the key ingredient in that slice -- words are not enough to describe it.  Perhaps the word "humanity" is a good start. 

Here is recipe for humanity.

One Spelt Right Pizza Dough Fully Thawed and Risen
Extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves of fresh garlic
8-12 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
2 ounces chevre soft goat cheese
12-16 ounces mozzarella cheese (shredded)
2 ounces grated fresh parmesan cheese
8-10 leaves fresh basil
Sea Salt

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Lightly oil pizza pan with EVOO.  Stretch Spelt Right Pizza Dough over pan.  Drizzle dough with EVOO and garlic ground with salt (I do this with a mortar and pestle).  Spread with hands.  Put in oven for about 5 minutes just firm up the crust.   In the meantime, saute sliced mushrooms and more garlic and salt in EVOO until browned.  Set aside.   Take crust out of oven and top with shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, and small dollops of goat cheese.  Next add the mushrooms spreading evenly.   Top with with 6-10 leaves of fresh chopped (not too fine) basil.   Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is light brown on the bottom.

Remove from oven.  Slice for family.  Tempt friend who is fasting and save extra large piece for her.   Place extra large piece in aluminum foil, wrap carefully, and give to Anna with a kind admonition not to eat until sundown.

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