New York - The Empire State
Updated: Jun 12
Official Slogan: Ever Upwards
Suggested Slogan: Upstate and Up Yours!
Two Truths and a Lie
Fire Island has long been a refuge for the queer community in the United States. It is home to the mother house of “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”, a group of non-Catholic nuns who use satire and the art of drag to fight for civil rights and raise money for the poor and homeless.
A century before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, police forcibly removed a black woman named Elizabeth Jennings from a Manhattan streetcar reserved for white customers. A 26-year-old lawyer, Chester Arthur, (future 21st president of the U.S.) took her case to court and succeeded in desegregating the city’s mass transit system.
The Recipe - Grape Rugelach
At 17, my friends and I visited New York City for spring break. Not by ourselves - our school sponsored the trip and teachers came along to chaperone. They allowed us to wander within a four-block radius. This was an unprecedented level of freedom for us Catholic school girls. It was exhilarating to head out from the hotel and explore the city each morning. I don’t think I was supposed to go alone but nobody was up at 6 a.m. to stop me. I discovered a Jewish bakery with a tantalizing array of pastries. I returned every day to sample different treats.
New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the United States. This population has made an impressive mark on the culture. Many of New York City’s most iconic foods have Jewish origins like bagels, cheesecake, and pastrami on rye. I decided to try making Rugelach, a cookie (or mini-pastry depending on how one defines it) popular in Israel and throughout the Jewish diaspora. Rugelach, Yiddish for “little twists”, starts with a pastry dough that is rolled thin, covered with filling then cut and rolled into its signature shape. Modern American bakers usually make their dough with cream cheese, but a yeasted dough is more popular in Israel.
I turned to the New York Times Online for an authentic recipe, though the comments section registered several complaints regarding the filling. A light dusting of cinnamon and sugar with a sprinkle of nuts is traditional. A layer of thinned jam is also popular. Combining those elements seems to anger commenters. I veered from the controversy and looked elsewhere for inspiration.
The idyllic Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is famed for vineyards where Concord grapes grow in abundance and grape pie is a local specialty. I bought some preserves since I have never found those grapes for sale in Omaha. I followed Samantha Senevirante’s advice and added freshly grated nutmeg to the jam. Senevirante is a Brooklyn-based foodie with an impressive resume. Her book “The New Sugar and Spice” has a great anecdote connecting nutmeg to the history of New York. It is too long to include here but is worth seeking out.
I really enjoyed working with this dough. The high-fat content made it pliable yet strong as I rolled, filled, and rolled again. These cookies were beautiful and resembled croissants for a fraction of the effort! The grape flavor was so nostalgic, I adored concord jelly as a child and haven’t sought it out in years. Since I excluded nuts, these made great end-of-the-year gifts to my children’s teachers. I will have to make another batch soon.
Want to experience New York for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
New York City is a blast. I recommend eating to your heart's content and then strolling about until you are hungry again. Repeat as desired. I was legitimately lost in the Met for a while which was really fun. If traveling is out, one could turn to countless books, poems, musicals, movies, or tv shows set in the Big Apple. I want to shout out to the one novel set in Harlem that I physically could not put down from start to finish – “Push” by Sapphire.
Time for the whole truth
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are based out of San Fransisco.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)