I love hamentashen, I love the shape the form and the sweet jelly surprise in the middle. Almost like a Jewish Tootsie Roll pop, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop the famous owl asks? That’s kind of how I feel when eating hamentashens. The biggest problem is that good hamentashens are hard to come by, Streits bakery has cornered the hamentashen market by shipping their famous easy to bite cakes everywhere and blocking out all other competition, they are like the Wal Mart of hamentashens and other kosher baked goods- such as matzo- they also own a large percentage of the market since Manichevetz has a little warning label on their matzo boxes warning people that although Pesach is the only time most will be forced into eating this constipation inducing poor mans bread- it in fact is not kosher for Passover.
It bothers me that most folks don’t make their own hamentashens anymore. In our age of quick fixes hour long commutes, blogging addictions, and must see TV- we have lost the will or time to bother with anything non-microwavable. I love the homemade crust; the whole trick is good crust- since everyone cops out and just uses smuckers jam. Might as well have homemade dough, that crunchy dough similar to the stuff that everyone uses to make white cookies proclaiming “it’s a boy” for brisim and shalom zachors. Its almost like pie- without good crust- all is lost.
I cannot tell you the technical differences between different modes of hamentashen design- but I usually am good at spotting a fine piece of hamentashen when all the shalach manos are scattered about someone’s kitchen table. I used to live going to my cousins in Monsey because I felt that frummies and very rich modern orthodox types gave the best most elaborate shalach manos. Purim was the only time of year I got to eat those Israeli wafers that are cheap fillers. I didn’t know this of course- until I got to Israel and saw them in bins in every store, then you get sick of them- and realize that they taste no better then the wafers the priest gives you during communion.
I loved and still enjoy sifting through shalach manos- its like hunting for treasure. Looking in the baskets and baggies filled with fruit rollups, mini kedem grape juice bottles, stacks of peanut chews, sunkist candies, those little sesame seed things, super snacks and of course homemade hamentashens. I could spot one from a mile away, sticking to the roof of a zip locked bag or saran wrapped- with its sides kissing the plastic almost like when someone puts their mouth against a window. Jelly dripping down its sides, those were the days.
I am all about the red or orange jellied ones, usually the venerable apricot and raspberry. One year my friends mom made some of the most delicious strawberry hamentashens out of those yummy sugar laden frozen strawberries. But usually its just ghetto jelly that you have to make due with. I am not a fan of poppy seeds and had no idea where they came from- chocolate also seems so nasty. Maybe my having grown up in an apartheid like situation has lead to my hatred for the colored hamnetashens. No one in my family liked black or brown centered hamentashens, we were very racist in that department, and although we don’t publicize our racism by bagging equal opportunity shalach manos- we still harbor those same feelings as before the politically correct movement came around- I think JOFA started the whole thing about giving every hamentashen a chance before judging it based on the color of its center. JOFA is the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance by the way.
It happens to be that JOFA tried to implement a few years ago a law decreeing that equal amounts of brown dough and white dough be made for the hamentashens shell. The uprising was fierce and thank the Lord for the insular charedi communities of Lakewood and Monsey- who said they would boycott Purim if they would push for such a thing. JOFA members got scared because the only time they actually see charedim is when they protest at JTS or when they send yeshiva guys to collect for their yeshivas, Od Yosef Chai or Lev Leachim on Purim night. Although the two groups hate each other, charedim accept money from them and the JOFA members love to see a bunch of random drunk smelly yeshiva guys singing mi-shenichnas adar in their living rooms.
Would a chocolate hamentash really achieve the status of an actual hamentash anyway? Or would it be reduced to mere cookie status and be resigned to the back rows of the bakery display cases on the 14th of adar?
Another problem I have with the whole manufactured hamentash is that they are really cheap on the jelly. You would figure with lower costs and having a monopoly the least they could do is give us a little more jelly. You know how they accomplished this jelly raping? They engineered a special hamentash design by making the side walls of the triangular cakes very steep, by steepening the angles of the walls, they were able to make the cookies look the same while skimping on the jellied treasures that hamnetashen enthusiasts look forward to every year. Homemade hamentashen have slacker angles and allow more jelly to seep into the inner reaches- this makes the eating process more enjoyable since one need not travel so far to reach the jelly. It also allows each bite to be cherished, rather then the traditional biting just to reach the jelly, it puts the fun back in hamentashen.
Hamentashens also enjoy the status as being the best cookie to drop on the floor and take advantage of the 10 second rule- that I am sure many of us adopted during college. The 10 second rule states: “that one may eat an object off the floor if it is picked up within 10 seconds.” Now of course there are exceptions, drop your pizza slice on a dirty carpet and you are doomed, or maybe that omelet fell on any floor- then you cannot abide by the 10 second rule. The hamentash of course is the greatest cookie to drop- because due to its ergonomic shape it will not roll away, this of course is a common problem with many other cookies. Oreos especially have this issue, their double wide tracks make them easy to roll, and they do tend to gain speed once they hit the ground- trying to evade the clenches of the evil 10 second rule. This has been such a problem recently with hundreds of Oreos rolling under couches- only to be found when Pesach cleaning rolls around- no pun intended.
The triangular shape of the hamentashens is also interesting in that it proves that the Persians were indeed ahead of their time. Nuclear weapons was not the only thing they have progressed in, they have also as seen by the hamentashen hats excelled in fashion way before our dear friend George Washington would don one of these same hats hundreds of years later. It is the Americans that have copied the Persians; I do wonder if the Bushy Crusaders know that Americas founding fathers all wore hamentashen hats- I wonder if they would still be so anti Iran’s world take over.
The folks at Frum Satire would like to wish you a safe and happy Purim. If you get drunk please throw up outside and don’t piss on my lawn. Stay tuned for more Purim Rants.
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