Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's a Different World

One of my daughters was helping me unpack the Pesach dishes last week when I noticed and mentioned that the juice glasses were missing. Clearly they had been packed somewhere and I needed to find them. My daughter laughed and said: "You and Babi. Those are yahrzeit glasses mom." It's a new world all right.

Back when my husband and I were young the word gleisele (little glass) had exactly one referent: a yahrzeit glass. There was only one kind of yahrzeit candle available and it came in a glass size equal in volume to the kitchen dixie cups made today. They had a pretty border etched into the glass. I can't remember any house I was ever in back then that did not have a complete "set" of those glasses that had been carefully cleaned and then used for drinking, both for Pesach and for during the year as well. We were ahead of the times in recycling back then.

They were also an important element in any cooking project. We had a neighbor when we first moved to NY who was an incredible baker. I spent one afternoon with Sharinene, a"h, getting all her recipes. And that's when I truly learned the "Jewish" method of food measurement. Her recipes weren't given in measuring teaspoons and tablespoons, nor in gradated cups. She differentiated the cup sizes as follows: shnaps gleisele, gleisele, vien gleisele, vasser gleisel. She talked to me about loeffelach (the spoons in a set of silverware used for stirring tea) and loeffelen (the soup spoons from that set.) Spices were added as follows: ah tropeleh, ah kleine bissele, ah bissele, ah bissele mer, ah sach. Nothing was exempt from the measuring process. Ah handt was a perfectly legitimate measuring tool. How big were the blintzes leaves supposed to be? Ah fleish teller in size. How many beans went into the cholent? Ah zuppen teller's worth.

I've standardized my recipes pretty much over the years, particularly when I'm giving a recipe to someone else, except when I actually have someone standing next to me and watching me cook. Then the answer to "How much?" goes right back to my growing up days. I pour the salt into my palm until it is just enough. Measuring spoons? When God provided us with "built ins"?

I did find the gleiselach and so everything is right in my world now. Just in time, too, because the big kugel roaster requires a halb gleisele (half a glass) of oil.


GilaB said...

A good friend's mother, as a newlywed, got her new mother-in-law's vaunted stuffed cabbage recipe, and attempted it for a yom tov. It called for 1 gl. of rice, and while she thought that sounded like a lot, she proceeded to add a gallon of rice to the stuffing, ending up with vast quantities of undercooked rice with little bits of other filling scattered through it. You can guess what volume 1 gl. was supposed to have been.

Esty said...

I love this! When I got the recipes from my grandmother and mother for Pesach they all of them were like you write about and I needed to translate them before I could use them. And I also have a set of those yarzeit candle glasses that I got from my grandmother. Not sure just yet what I'm going to do with them.

Anonymously said...

I don't even own any measuring cups or spoons for Pesach. Of course I use a glesele. You mean there's another way?!

little sheep said...

we make fun of my father's attachment to gleiselech too! we don't even use them-they were never used for measuring or anything like that. we just can't throw it out cause "that was bobby's"...(no pretty edging on them either. they must be more ancient than yours!)