It’s that time of the year, known by many names in different traditions. A time for gift-giving, turkey basting, bargain hunting, and family feuding. Nevermind your jacked up credit by the end of January – it’s the thought that counts! And don’t hate Uncle Karl for bestowing that re-gifted Paco Rabanne upon you; it might come in handy for that distant relative of yours sometime in the near future.
As usual, that momentous occasion came and went in a flash. However, there was occasion for me to celebrate something besides the usual sorrel and sweetbread of a Caribbean expatriate Christmas. My Toronto Christmas was green. No snow on Christmas day with mild temperatures – hooray! Not only that, it was smoking green. This season, I am proud to say I became an honorary Jew. How the heck did that happen? On Boxing Day, I crashed a latke party thrown by a Jewish musician. I didn’t know latke from my left elbow, but all it took was the mention of food to get my wayward attention. We arrived fashionably early, just in time to pounce upon a delectable spread of lovingly prepared hors d’oeuvres. Sweet potato pie, crisp green salad and raw veggies with dip kicked things off with a promising start. Mmmm….Our Jewish host, JR, looked pretty hunky with floured hands and grease smeared apron, happily frying latkes with the aid of an assistant. I discovered latkes (pronounced lat-kas) are small, potato pancakes – a popular Hanukkah treat. These humble-looking lovelies were served with a guilt-inducing dollop of sour cream and homemade applesauce. I was a latke virgin ‘til the first bite of deep fried goodness sent me into hyperspace. After a generous slice of spiced pumpkin pie washed down with a glass of wine, I was overwhelmed by serious contentment vibes. Watching Tom Selleck’s hot ass making waves across the screen on vintage episodes of Magnum P.I. certainly added to the festivity, while Dj Laptop’s selection of contemporary goodies replaced the dialogue. As the peace pipe got passed around, I reflected on my good fortune and thanked my friend for introducing me to a fresh new vibe.
“I smell latkes!” announced a jolly guest barging through the front door. In no time, the house was packed with an assortment of well wishers and honorary Jews like myself. I migrated to the spacious kitchen, where the party got cranked up a notch with convivial guests chatting up a storm and blazing tobacco outside. I heard through the grapevine that more latkes were on the way. Perched on a swivel chair, drink in hand, I eagerly awaited their arrival. “Anybody want space latkes?” inquired a cheerful woman, holding a plate of dark brown edibles. Really? Space latkes? How generous! I grabbed 2 and bit into one, looking for evidence of yuletide magnanimity. Tiny flecks of a dark green substance that was definitely not parsley were present. After the second helping, I had just enough room left for a brewsky. Meanwhile a crowd had gathered in the living room for the lighting of the Hanukkah candelabrum. In the background, I couldn’t help noticing how Tom Selleck’s junk had rolled up on one side of his blue jeans. I began to suspect that this oversight was deliberately engineered – either by Selleck himself or his crafty stylist. The whole thing reeked of Private Investigator porn… Eight, multi-coloured candles were lit one by one, as Hanukkah stories were recited and songs sung in Yiddish. Wired out on jacked up latkes and peace pipes galore, I clapped along, providing a bit of elementary percussion. It was the least I could do as an honorary Jew.
The party continued in the chicly furnished basement. Some thoughtful individual provided air mattresses in what became known as the “plounge room.” Roughly a dozen peeps were chilling out down here. Now dis is where the real party’s at! A lone vaporizer sat sulkily in a corner, longing for some kind person to maximize its pleasure giving potential. Tom and I decided to rescue the poor thing from languishing in obscurity. Soon we were puffing along with other happy space cadets, gladly giving the vaporizer a much needed workout.
“This lady’s definitely mellowed out,” remarked a fellow plounger lying next to me as I stared at the ceiling, luxed out amidst a pile of cushions. As if it wasn’t enough that the space latkes had rendered me incapable of speech and doing anything besides smiling….I plounged right the fuck out, as the peace pipe got passed around. Ahhhh, Christmas never smelt so good! My shoulders got a goodly massage, while my foot received random reflexology from a Jewish dude who decided to make a headrest out of my shin. What could I say? I was spoilt rotten. Tom and I were the last to leave, sometime after 3 in the morning, after a brief excursion to a reggae party at Embassy – and back to the house, just in time for the Ploungefest Closing Ceremony which entailed yet another round of tree burning.
I woke up around noon the following day after crashing out solid. Rumor had it that a free dinner and dance was being held at the synagogue in Kensington later on. Seeing how free dinners were currently en vogue, we decided to check it out. A lively celebration was going on in the basement, with Jews in traditional dress clapping and dancing along to a live, 3 piece band performing traditional songs. A snack table had been set out, but the only thing that caught my eye were the twizzlers. We had arrived a little late so perhaps we had missed out on the real goodies. Lo and behold, within minutes, a smiling Jewish elder presented a plate with the instantly recognizable savouries, happily diffusing oil on a paper towel.
“Would you like some latkes?” Oh yes please! I grabbed the greasy tiding of gastronomic joy and proceeded to christen it with sour cream. I was getting the hang of this Hanukkah thing pretty fast – the eating part, that is. Oh my God…this one was even tastier than what I had last night! Tom’s Jewish lesbian friend who’d also attended last night’s latkefest came to the same conclusion. These babes tasted like they were craftily seasoned with secret recipe expertise by a Jewish granny. Mmmm mmm! Although these didn’t come from space, they were every bit as mind-blowing, bite for bite. It was equally gratifying to watch the drummer rocking it out on the kit. Too bad I couldn’t understand what the lead guitarist and frontman were singing about but there were kids here too, so I’m sure the setlist must have been kosher.
After experiencing Christmas, X-mas and Kwanzaa, I can now add Hanukkah to the list. I must admit I didn’t learn much about the tradition itself, but I discovered that Jewish people sure know how to throw kick ass dinner parties. Does that make me a Jew lover? You bet.
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