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Borekas, Pastels, Yaprakis - Oh My!

By Cynthia Flash Hemphill

Volunteers making biscochos at SBH.

If you believe the saying that "food is love," then there's a lot of love going on around the Seattle Sephardic community! Who doesn't love the food - especially the savory pastries our grandmothers brought with them from the old country? For many generations, we have received both a culinary and cultural food love from the bendichas manos - the blessed hands of our nonas and papus.

Want to see people's mouth's water? Mention borekas, boyos (or bulemas, depending whether you're from Rhodes or Turkey), pasteles, roskas, yaprakis, panderas ... you get the picture. Want to see people lick their lips? Serve this menu to your guests and family and see the fulfillment of the invitation to kome kon gana- eat with a hearty appetite.

But making these delicacies is an art. Everyone has his or her own recipe and most of the time they keep evolving as we refine measurements and ingredients. In many cases, even if you have a recipe, in order to perfect it, it's a good idea to bake with veterans who can pass on tips and correct novice mistakes.

I have good news. Nearly every week, one or both of the Sephardic synagogues in town hold baking parties. They are almost constantly preparing for one of their bazaars, bake sales, events, or to fill their freezers to fulfill year-around custom orders. Want to get in on the action? Everyone is welcome to join! All you have to do is show up. And if you're there at noon, they'll feed you lunch - comer debaldes!

Congregation Ezra Bessaroth is taking the summer off after a busy year and will start baking again on Mondays beginning Sept. 12.

Right now, however, Sephardic Bikur Holim is in full baking mode to prepare for its Sept. 11 Grand Bazaar. Here are the upcoming times and items:

The fun usually starts at 9:30 a.m. and goes until 4:30 p.m. Those who don't want to bake are welcome to watch the oven, cut, and pack. Come for a few hours or a few days. Just come and learn and participate.  

Aug. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 - Borekas

Aug. 14  (a rare Sunday event that many have been asking for) -  Breakfast Bulemas

Aug. 16, 17, 18 -  Yaprakis

Aug. 30, 31 -  Pasteles

Sept. 1, 6, 7 and 8 (if needed) - Pasteles

If you would like to help, please contact Terry Azose at Many hands make faster work!


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