L’shana tova …!

beauty in the form of a beverage!“L’shana tova …!”A turn of phrase, but heartfelt nonetheless, every year I look forward to expressing this greeting to some of my friends and former associates. For those of you unfamiliar, it means “Happy New Year” in Hebrew. On the Jewish calendar, we have just entered a new year. So many religious events seem to be based on lunar and not solar calendars!

This actually brings back memories in my own life. I recall going to the corner restaurant owned by a Jewish gentleman, during my early years and ordering a chocolate egg cream. This was “liquid love” to me; it was “beauty in the form of a beverage.” That nostalgic memory has recently been revitalized by the recent introduction of the AriZona Chocolate Fudge Float Sparkling Soda. It has a vaguely familiar taste and it is made with Bosco, a chocolate syrup that I used to have in my milk about 50 some odd years ago.

I also recall my fifth grade teacher advising to have me “bussed” from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Sheepshead Bay in the early 1960’s. The move turned out to be a good thing in the long run. A social worker later eyed me and suggested I take the entrance examination to attend Brooklyn Technical High School, one of New York City’s elite public high schools at the time. I did and I was selected and history is still being made.

My fifth grade teacher also predicted that I would become President of the United States. As you can see, her heart was in the right place and she was a bit ahead of the times. For the record, I have no interest in that job today. I do not envy President Barack H. Obama for one minute! He is beginning to look older than me and I pre-date him by about 10 years…

And then, there was my first business partnership. It lasted longer than either of my marriages. I was fortunate to inherit both a business partner and a mentor. That relationship also helped shape much of my thinking today in terms of how to view business decisions.

If you have read this far, you kind of get the impression that I am a complex person (are not we all?). One would never expect “me” to look forward to uttering such as a phase as “l’shana tova,” but I really do look forward to it every year. It brings me closer to my cousins!

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Nasi Goreng

A little more than a year ago, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia for a brief vacation.  I came across a dish that I used to make in Brooklyn for my brother and my niece when we were all quite young. Me being the oldest of the group, I considered myself a bit industrious in the kitchen. My trip to Jakarta triggered the memory of a meal I had long since forgotten.

We didn’t have much food in those days and there were times that I would have to watch the two of them. I would have to make do with whatever was leftover in the refrigerator.  I did not know that what I was making at the time was a variation of an Indonesian dish or for that matter a variation of something that could be picked up at your local Chinese restaurant. I am of the opinion that this dish is quite popular throughout parts of Asia and maybe even South America.

I would take some leftover rice, chopped onions, two eggs, some green peas or peas and carrots and fry it all in a little butter. I would also take a couple of pieces of leftover chicken, slice and dice it up and add that to the mixture. This turned into a meal “fit for both pauper and prince”.

Recently, I concocted a “modified” version of my “nasi goreng”(fried rice). I went to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, greeted the owner, “Gong Hai Fa Cai” (Happy New Year!). (I like to “show a little love” to those who make my food…) I ordered a simple shrimp fried rice dish for takeout. When I got home, I scrambled two eggs, added some green peas and a generous serving of hot sauce to spice it up. A friend had brought me some frozen dumplings from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to try. I nuked those and added them as a side dish. Voila! A meal fit for a king!

I tell you this story because I truly realize that there is more that we have in common than that which should keep us apart. We all eat variations of the same foods! There is a passage in the Quran,  “We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” (49:13) I believe that.

We all know the difference between good and evil. Embrace what is good and condemn that which is evil. Try to be less selfish and more selfless. Exercise compassion in your personal lives. These things mean more to me, as I get older. We grow physically closer to each other with advances in transportation and communication. Strive to know your neighbor. He is closer to you than you imagine.  And remember, diversity is our strength!