Mississippi Roast gone viral.That food article drew me right into the New York Times last week.
I am fascinated with the trajectory a recipe can take. Here in Minneapolis (at the other end of the Mississippi River), we have also experienced recipes gone viral.The last example I remember was Beer Can Chicken.
You can guess why Beer Can Chicken became an instant success, but why Mississippi Roast? According to the article, more than a decade ago a Ripley, MS woman dumped a chuck roast in her slow cooker and topped it with four ingredients: packets of dry ranch dressing and dry au jus gravy, one stick of butter, and a few pepperoncini from a jar. She left the roast alone for hours (no patchke-ing) and then return to a sumptuous (albeit traif) roast.
But this is the New York Times reporting, so a simple recipe like that needs fixing up or, as we say in Yiddish, patchke-ing.The point of Ms. Chapman's roast was its simplicity, but the reporter had to patchke or fuss with the recipe adding steps and making it healthier. And to top it all off, the NYT suggested a "robust structured red wine" to accompany the roast. This is the kind of meal that calls for drinking whatever is on hand in the refrigerator.
It brought to mind one of my favorite jokes told by Rabbi Kassel Abelson. (The joke is better read aloud).
A congregational rabbi finally takes a long awaited trip to Paris.For years he has dreamed about the city and its attractions and its food.The first night he chooses one of the top Parisian restaurants for his dining pleasure and makes a decision for once to try a traif dish. As long as he's made that decision, he will have roasted pig.He awaits his delicacy and the waiter brings it out with a flourish, places the platter with the whole pig garnished with parsley and brandishing an apple in its mouth.Before the rabbi can dig in, a congregant walks up to his table, sees the pig, and is horrified.
Before he can speak, the rabbi says, "The French have to patchke even with a baked apple."
I had plenty of time to think about the patchke factor that is part of the New York Times recipes because I was cooking soup at the time.I had a simple recipe for Root Soup which listed the ingredients with the directions to simply place everything in the soup pot and cook.
"That can't be good," I thought."I'll just brown the onions, add garlic and celery in olive oil and create a better flavor profile.Maybe I should roast the root vegetables before adding them to the soup to give them a bit more sweetness."
Now the soup was taking a lot longer than I'd planned and I realized—here I was patchke-ing around with a recipe and thinking about how silly it is to patchke around with a recipe. The soup was a hit, by the way.
I'm focused on food because with the help of my synagogue Beth El, I'm working on a cookbook version of recipe handouts and discussion questions I created for the synagogue around the weekly Torah portion.I promise that in those recipes, I've eliminated the patchke factor, but feel free to add more steps to any of the recipes.You can take a peek at the unedited version on our website http://www.morejewishluck.com/extended-version/taste-of-torah. Not to worry, once Ta'am Torah is ready for the marketplace, I'll let you know.
*Patchke means to fuss or mess around inefficiently.I like the Urban Dictionary's updated version of patchke—"To furiously text everyone in your address book until you secure a hookup." Who would have guessed a Yiddish word could leap the shtetl to the age of smartphones?