By Cynthia Flash Hemphill
What is the perfect wedding gift that parents can give a Sephardic bride? Read below to find out.
This summer, my friend's daughter got married in Seattle. It was your typical Big Fat Jewish wedding! The hotel, the nine bridesmaids. The handsome groom. The beautiful bride. The rabbi reading from his iPad. As the Greeks might say, The Full Catastrophe!!
But that wasn't all. This Sephardic Jewish wedding wouldn't, couldn't be complete without a special pastry from the old country - boyos (aka bulemas)!
Starting in June - three months before the September wedding - the bride and her parents, the future in-laws (with the groom on camera duty) and a bunch of friends - started baking boyos. The parents shopped for all the ingredients, then spent hours prepping the spinach filling. The next day, friends gathered to help assemble and bake the boyos. This process happened twice during the summer to make more than 500 beautiful cheesy handmade boyos. My friend even bought a new freezer to keep these precious goodies safe in her home as the big day approached.
I asked my friend why it was important to go through the expense and effort to make these delicacies. The bride wanted to include a bit of her Sephardic heritage in the wedding meal. The original plan was to offer them as appetizers before dinner at the hotel. But the hotel wouldn't allow the family to bring the boyos into the venue (fear of food poisoning, I guess). So the family came up with plan B. They decided to have them heated and available right after the ceremony at the synagogue so guests could take them "for the road" and enjoy them as they mingled outside or on their way to the reception.
It was a beautiful gesture marked by a ton of work.
But of course, even with amazing forethought and effort, not everything goes as planned. Days before the wedding, my friend was at her home when her husband noticed a horrible stench. They followed their noses to the room with the new boyos freezer and realized that it had somehow become unplugged. Everything in it was ruined, including the 500+ boyos para la novia!!!!
At that point the family had two choices:
1. Ditch the boyos and enjoy the rest of the wedding.
2. Get more boyos.
Having come this far and doing this much for the perfect wedding, there really was only one choice: hire a caterer to recreate the boyos.
As they enjoyed the warm boyos after the ceremony, the guests - and even the bride - had no idea of the back story of the boyos.
Were they as good as the ones made by the family and friends? Not important.
The important take-away is that the bride got her boyos - a taste of her grandparent's Sephardic heritage shared on her wedding day. She also learned the full story during her father's speech to her at the reception - a story that showed how much she and the family's heritage meant to them all.