December 10, 2009

Edite waved hello and slipped past the gate in her lemony dress.  We walked down the path into the synagogue where Paulo designed the sanctuary, brightening up the room with its heavy maroon chairs.  The windows had menorahs etched on them, and it was easy to see how the Brazilian sun could carve pathways between the frosted glass squares.

Past the sanctuary and down the hall, through the kiddush room scattered with tables and the kind of chairs they line up when there aren’t enough official seats for the high holidays, the smell of oil and yeast wafted through.  There was a box with discarded pineapple spikes, the tops and the spotted outsides, by the door.  We continued past.  At the stove, a heavy woman in an over-washed tank top stood over a pot of cooking oil, taking sufganiot out of the hot liquid as they burnished brown.  There was a floured tray with pats of uncooked dough, and a paper towel lined plastic bin with finished doughnuts.  Edite chatted with her–this is my cousin from the United States, she wants to learn how to cook, will you teach her?  There was some back and forth about when I could come back, and the channukah preparations that would begin tomorrow morning at 9.30am.

The woman explained that making sufganiot was a process.  She pulled a glass bowl of pineapple filling out of the refrigerator in the small, white formica kitchen and explained that she was going to fill the doughnuts with the sunny yellow filling.  She grabbed a knife and sliced open a few of the very hot pastries, spooning the glistening pineapple into them.  They were so hot they almost burnt my fingers as I went to take a taste, but they were delicious.


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