Written By: Katie Gonzalez
Hanukkah may be known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the festival of (fried) food. In Israel, a Hanukkah favorite that is taking over local bakeries and grocery stores is sufganiyah, a small, deep-fried donut stuffed with jam.
Although the one-every-70,000-year convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, known as Thanksgivukkah in the US media, isn’t causing as much excitement overseas as it is in the United States, it didn’t stop me from visiting Shany Bakery inHaifa for a few jelly donuts.
Over in the US, talk of Thanksgivukkah is resulting in a culinary capitalization by several store owners. NYC’s Zucker Bakery, for example, is taking its own spin on this week’s double-holiday celebration with a special flavor of sufganiyah. Instead of plain sweet dough and berry filling, Zucker Bakery has introduced the spiced pumpkin donut with turkey-cranberry filling to a roster of seasonally-appropriate bites.
I got on the phone with Zucker Bakery’s owner, Zohar Zohar, an Israeli native who has been celebrating Hannukah with sweets since she was a little girl. Zohar shared that the concept of taking such an unconventional twist on the sufganiyah might seem strange, especially to Israelis, but “when you taste it, you’ll get it. It works.”
“I don’t think they mess up tradition,” Zohar said. “I think they combine the two holidays and do it in a really nice way.” Zohar, whose favorite item from her bakery’s holiday offerings is the sweet potato donut stuffed with marshmallow filling, said that, despite the emergence of new flavors and flashier treats, she still understands the draw of the old-fashioned sufganiyah.
“I grew up on the jelly donuts,” she said. “They’re something to wait for.”
Meet Countlan’s Newest Contributor: Katie Gonzalez who is based in Haifa, Israel. She maintains a personal travel blog, Slouching Towards Haifa.
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