Scrumptious Saturday: The Back Story

Last night my friends Emily, Christine and Melvin, Alena and their son Andy came over for the first-ever Scrumptious Saturday. We had good conversation, great eats and plenty of wine. The meal was a tribute to my recent Israel trip and consisted of falafel, sesame coated chicken, Israeli salad, labenah, hummus and sour cabbage salad. Emily brought some delicious hamantashen, a cookie with fruit filling that is traditionally served for Purim.

I had made hummus from scratch before, but it was my first time for the other items. Everything turned out fabulously, except the hummus, which was seasoned to perfection but had too crunchy a texture. Anyway, to pull this menu together, I started cooking and grocery shopping at 8 a.m. yesterday morning. I love spending an entire day in the kitchen, with Jack assisting, some happy house music pumping and wine flowing (after noon, of course).

The idea for Scrumptious Saturday--a weekly, low-key dinner that all my fabulous friends are invited to attend each Saturday--is inspired by Lora's Wednesday Spaghetti, as well as by my recent experiences in Israel.

Here's a journal entry I wrote during my trip that explains what I mean:

Written March 7, 2009

This is the first opportunity I've had to sit down and write since my Birthright trip to Israel began. I don't even know where to start.

Traveling in a group of more than forty people has certainly been interesting for me, to say the least. When I travel,
I like to blend in, observe my surroundings and take my time. A group of forty is imposing. When we were shopping in Jerusalem at the Mahan Yehuda shuk for rugala, pomella fruit, baklava, "kisses" and other goodies to celebrate Shabbat, we were blocking every sidewalk, stepping into traffic and generally acting like loud, typical American tourists.

you tell I'm Jewish? My journal entry about an amazing and FREE trip to Israel begins with bitching. I'll stop now.

This trip really has been amazing so far--
full of firsts. This is my first time to the Middle East. Two days ago I experienced a weightless sensation for the first time while floating in the Dead Sea. Yesterday, I hiked for the first time in the desert, around the rim of the Ramon Crater. I also celebrated Shabbat for the first time last night.

While I don't see myself becoming a more religious person, I would like to incorporate the concept of Shabbat into my regular life.

For those of you who don't know, Jewish people believe that you work very hard all week, and then on the seventh d
ay, Saturday, you rest.

Shabbat begins Friday night at sundown with a celebration that includes an elaborate
home-cooked meal, plenty of wine and time with family and friends. You share, talk, reflect and enjoy all the things you work so hard for during the rest of the week. Then, on Saturday you take it easy until sundown when you party hardy. (Obviously this is the secular way to observe the Sabbath.)

I will never make it home after work on a Friday night in time to celebrate Shabbat on the proper day, but why not do it Saturday night/Sunday day instead? It's not the day that's important but the idea of celebrating, sharing and feeling thankful for all the things that bring happiness to your life.

Like traditional Shabbat celebrations, the day after Scrumptious Saturday (today) is my "day of rest." For me this means calling to catch up with friends and family, writing blog posts, taking walks through the city and maybe reading a good book. I refuse to cook (luckily, I have plenty of delicious leftovers from last night), clean or think about work, until sundown tonight.

Life is good.

Ramon Crater

Dead Sea

Mahane Yehuda Shuk in Jerusalem


  1. again, thanks for sharing! I will be down sometime before summer, I promise.

  2. Your Scrumptious Saturday sounds delicious. I love falafel and hamentaschen (my Nana's family is Jewish) but am not so great at making them. I think your weekly get together is a great tradition to start.

    P.S. I think you're right about sodas for kids in restaurants.

  3. wow that is amazing! those pictures are awesome... how long have u been there?!

  4. I was in Israel for most of the month of March. Sadly, I am back now. It really is an amazing place--I would definitely consider moving to Israel!

  5. awe thats awesome! those pictures are awesome, it seems like a really nice place

  6. scrumptious saturdays sound like a hit. good traditions have to start somewhere, right? thanks for sharing.