There is no other

This phrase is the title of the latest album by Rhiannon Giddens. For those who have not heard me talk about her, she is a multi-talented, singer/musician, MacArther genius award winner. You can find out more at Listening to her is food for the soul and she performed live yesterday from Ireland with her partner Francesco Turrisi where they live when not touring. Their program brought home the fact that this is not a NY/CT problem, or an American problem but an international crisis that affects us all, if not equally.

The pandemic is international, but so is music and so is food. Johanna and Brad mentioned an Italian dessert his mother serves called struffoli. They described it as round sweet morsels stuck together with honey. I immediately thought of a dessert served during Rosh Hashanah called teglach, which is made of small round sweet morsels stuck together with honey. A quick google search revealed that the origin of teglach goes back to the ancient Romans. It was then taken up by Franco/German rabbis to be served at the sabbath meal and eventually became a symbol for a sweet new year.

Another food that is very international is kasha aka buckwheat aka groats. I have always eaten it with bowtie noodles (aka kasha varnishkes) or in knishes. But buckwheat is often used in Brittany to make crepes sarrasin or crepes de ble noir. Japanese make soba noodles from buckwheat and it is also used in Korean, Dutch and Russian cooking. I was happy to find a box of kasha when I did my first pandemic shopping and have made kasha varnishkes twice. It comes in different granulation sizes, namely whole, coarse, medium and fine. I prefer the whole kernels but have made do with coarse. Back in the day before the movement to avoid eggs, the recipe on the box used to say to toast the buckwheat in a pot and to add a beaten egg and cook until dry. The next step is to add boiling water in a 2 to 1 ratio, e.g. 2 cups water to 1 cup buckwheat. Cover and reduce heat and cook till absorbed, about 20 minutes. Now I sauté some onion until golden brown, stir in the buckwheat, add boiling water, and cover. The flavor is enhanced if you use beef or chicken stock. When it is done I mix it into some cooked bow tie noodles. I suppose this shape works best because the kasha clings to the considerable surface of the bow tie, but I am sure any noodle will do.

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