Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Make Me a Match - Parshat Chayay Sarah

If you told Patty Stanger that the first Biblical matchmaker was a guy, she might get a little pissed. But the Millionaire Matchmaker may have a thing or two to learn from Eliezer, Abraham's attendant, who goes to fetch a wife for his master's son Issac.

First, he listens to the parents. Abraham gives him the following specs - he wants a nice girl from his home town for Isaac, but she must be brought to Isaac in the land of Canaan (guess the wedding won't be in the bride's town).

Then, hoping to get a knockout girl, Eliezer brings 10 camels along with him on his matchmaking trek.

He stays hydrated, stopping outside of Abraham's hometown to drink from the public well. Lots of ladies are drawing water while he's there and this newbie shadchan (Yiddish for matchmaker) is overwhelmed by his choices. He asks for a sign from God to show him the right girl for Isaac (bet Patty wishes she could call in that card sometimes).

"I'll ask someone for water, and whoever offers me and my camels water to drink, that's the one for Isaac." Just as he finished saying so, Rebeccah comes along and generously draws water for Eliezer when he asks and further offers to draw water for each of his camels. It was a sign and it was bashert (meant to be).

Eliezer gives Rebeccah some cool golden accessories, bangles and nose rings, and she tells her family that she'd like to go meet the eligible bachelor Isaac. After a long journey back to the land of Canaan she finally lays eyes on Isaac. It's for sure love at first sight, and to slow things down a bit she covers her face with a veil. Eliezer gets Isaac caught up on the whole story, and Isaac is convinced of Rebeccah's specialness.

With out much further ado they were husband and wife. Success, a match made in heaven.

And to think it all sprang out of a well.

I want to recognize the centrality of water in the story of our matriarch and patriarch's union. You probably all know how to make ice water so we'll kick it up a notch (though it is a gift to know how to achieve the right ice to water ratio). I have tasted some wonderful agua frescas and enjoy making them at home. Literally meaning fresh/cold/refreshing water, these drinks were popularized in Mexico and the basic recipe requires mixing fruit with water and sugar and blending. They were the predecessors to sodas, but made fresh daily with some good-for-you ingredients.

I make a mean melon agua fresca which has already appeared on this blog. You can make citrus agua fresca, tamarind, coconut, hibiscus, you name it. We're going to take a stab at a few new flavors - mango, strawberry and for a more savory hit, cucumber lime. I sometimes find that substituting agave nectar for sugar helps the flavors blend better, and you don't end up with sugar at the bottom of your cup.

Master Agua Fresca Recipe

3 cups fruit
1.5 cups water
4 tbsp sugar or agave nectar
juice of 1 lime (optional)

Puree the fruit in a blender or food processor. Strain if you prefer or serve with pulp. Mix the pureed fruit with the water, sugar and lime in a pitcher. Add more ingredients as necessary based on your tastes.

Mango Agua Fresca

Use two mangos, peeled, cubed and seeds discarded.

Strawberry Agua Fresca

Use three cups of cut and hulled strawberries.

Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca

Use peeled seeded cucumbers, fresh squeezed lime juice and reduce the sugar by half.

P.S. Join me this Sunday at LimmudBoston. I'm giving a class at 1pm and there's a ton of incredible sessions going on all day long - I hope you'll join me.

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