I am addicted to a few things... daily cappuccinos, red wine, eBay, e-mail, and carrying a camera with me everywhere I go. What I don't tell many people is that I also have a serious addiction to chocolate rugelach.
What is rugelach (pronounced roo-guh-luh) you ask? It's a yeast dough rolled around a sweet filling, and only the best darn pastry that I've ever eaten....ever...period. Unlike in the States where most chocolate rugelach is made with chocolate chips, in Israel they make their own chocolate filling, and it is to-die-for deelish!
When I came to Israel on a month long backpacking trip in 1991, I ate several of these tasty treats every day. I couldn't help myself. Chocolate. Doughy. Flaky. Melt-in-your-mouth divine. Every street vendor, cafe, market, and souk we passed, I grabbed a chocolate rugelach. I will never forget walking off the airplane to my parents greeting me at the gate, and instead of my mom giving me a hug and telling me how much she missed me, all she said was, "Oh my gosh, you're so fat."
When we found out in 2004 that we were going to be living in Israel for 3 years, I got giddy. Not for all the exciting places we could travel, the new experiences we'd encounter, the country's history I'd always dreamed I'd finally share with Matt. No, I got giddy for the pastries. Seriously. I vowed to myself right then and there that I'd make it a point to always back away from the babka, I mean rugelach. My tush depended on it.
Yesterday after dropping the girls off at preschool I stopped by this cute cafe on my way back to the house to pick up a cappuccino. I walked up to the counter to order, but was caught off guard by the display. Staring directly at me at eye-level was the most beautiful creation I could ever have imagined... an entire glass cake pedestal filled with chocolate rugelach. I could almost hear them whispering my name. Was this a sign? It must have been a sign. I ordered my cappuccino and before I knew it the words just slipped off my tongue, "And two chocolate rugelach please."
I couldn't help myself. This display case on the counter was akin to the tschotchkes that are always placed at childrens eye level at the registers. You don't want to purchase anything, but before you know it... bam... you're taking home a pack of opened Starburst and some AA batteries. These displays are designed for people like me, who lack all self-control.
I couldn't believe that I made it to the car before I devoured the first rugelach. The second one actually made it into the house, though it didn't stay there for long before I inhaled that one too. I have to say that I was in heaven for I honestly can't remember the last time I ate a rugelach.
In honor of my last few days in the Holy Land, I'm going to cut loose, get crazy, and eat a few (let's be honest, a hell of a lot) of these tasty little treats. And when you see me in California, there will be no mention of my snug jeans... got it?
It's a good thing that Starbucks doesn't have them or I'd be in real trouble this summer.