You can't buy challah in Thunder Bay.
Oh, I mean, you can go to Safeway and buy some kind of fluffy, airy braided bread in a plastic bag, but if you want the real, rich, eggy deal, the kind with bite to it, the kind I grew up with, you're out of luck. Here, the best you can hope for is Finnish coffee bread, which is divine in its own cinnamon-and-cardamom-laden way, but which is not challah.
When we lived in Toronto and I wanted challah, I could head on over to the Harbord Bakery (that dangerous, dangerous monument to carbohydrates) or the Open Window Bakery or Gryfe’s or What a Bagel or United or any number of other quality establishments and pick up the real deal — if only on Thursdays or Fridays. When we moved here, though, no. Along with a dearth of real Indian roti, Ethiopian food, and delis, there are also no Jewish bakeries and therefore no challah.
And so, I sucked it up and learned how to make it on my own. And now, it's just automatic to whip up a couple of loaves every couple of weeks. I stick one in the freezer (you knew that by now, though) and we eat one on Friday evenings in a ritual now absolutely engrained (ha! No pun intended, AGAIN) into our family's rhythms. I make a mean challah, if I do say so myself.
(Ah, Friday-night dinner! Where we gather around the table and light the candles and say the blessings and welcome in the Sabbath and — yes — eat the challah and if there is one evening of the week wherein my children are most likely to melt down, it's Friday. The end of the day, the end of the week, so much ritual and excitement that sometimes it can all just topple over onto itself in a vale of tears, you know? You know.)
(But not always. Sometimes, maybe even often, or at least occasionally, there is peace. Joy, even.)
And always, there is the challah, the real thing, fragrant and substantial and golden and just the way we do it around here.
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I am taking part in NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, which has me posting a blog entry every day throughout the month of November.