A few weeks ago, Ellis and I came up with the idea of having a Hanukkah party at our house. We both felt that this was an opportunity to give back something to all the people that have been so nice to us since we’ve been here. And since it’s not a particularly religious holiday, and there are 8 nights to choose from, this seemed like a good idea.
As we started to make our plans, a few things started to become clear to us:
1. We could not have everyone here at the same time – so we decided to have two parties instead – one for the Israelis and our Jewish friends, and one for our Bulgarian co-workers who didn’t have any experience with the holiday and its customs.
2. If there was any way that I would make latkes (potato pancakes) for the holiday, we would have to invest in a food processor in order to grate up a whole sack of potatoes that we would need to feed everyone!
3. In addition to Hanukkah food, we wanted to serve Israeli style salads – so a trip was made to the Arab market in the center of town, to purchase dried chickpeas for hummus and sesame paste for tehina.
Invitations/emails were sent out, and we started planning the menu. Our friend Shlomo gave me a great recipe for home-made hummus, we decided that “sufganiyot” would be purchased from Dunkin’ Donuts, my co-worker Monica told me how to look for sour cream at the supermarket, and, of course, we had applesauce thanks to Sharon and Yossi who brought us a few cans from Israel last spring.
We also decided to order some salads from the Israeli restaurant that opened nearby – so that meant we had to go out to dinner there first to try them out! And at the last minute, Shlomo told us that we could get pitot here in Sofia, so he ordered some for us and kindly dropped them off at the house on Friday afternoon.
The menu was planned, a course of action was set, and we were ready to go. We had very good responses from everyone and the Bulgarians, especially, were excited at the opportunity to learn more about the holiday.