Time to make the sufganiyot in Jerusalem
What a country! Only in Israel would the commemoration of a successful rebellion against Greeks, subsequent rededication of the Temple and a miracle of lasting fuel for the menorah involve not the guzzling of olive oil but the next best thing, downing greasy doughnut after greasy doughnut. The sufganiya, Israel's answer to Europe and America's latke, has become the Chanuka treat of choice in Jerusalem. And it has come a long way from its humble jelly-filled roots, evidence of which can be found at just about every bakery in Jerusalem.
For a city with no Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme to speak of, residents of Jerusalem still harbor great, Homer Simspon-like affection for doughnuts. Just don't go looking for them when it's warm out. The sufganiya is a strictly Chanuka-time affair, though each and every year bakeries are beginning to roll out trays of the treats earlier and earlier, to absolutely nobody's dismay. As the holiday gets closer and closer, the doughnuts seem to multiply, at the Mahane Yehuda shuk, in supermarkets, coffee shops, bakeries, bakeshops, cafes, restaurants, at sufganiyah making parties and on random street corners. Pretty much any place people congregate. And come time to light the first candle, it seems you can't walk a few steps without the delicious smell of fresh sufganiyot wafting right into you.
Of course with all these doughnuts being thrown around, bakeries have had to come up with creative, and sometimes outrageous, concoctions to pass off as sufganiyot. The bakery chain Roladin has made it something of a challenge to try and come up with crazier and crazier sufganiyot every year. This time around they will be featuring pistachio, banana luti, machiatto and of course, melon vodka. (How else to make spinning the dreidle seem entertaining but to get plastered on doughnuts?)
Not to be outdone, English Cake, another chain, offers blueberry, plum, caramel and halva (as in sesame, as in not normally thought of as doughnut material) sufganiyot. At nearby Beit Ma'afeh Yehuda / Gagou de Paris on King George (pictured, with bus) you can find sufganiyot done simple or fancy, like a braided crueller sufganiya that mocks the holiday spirit by going easy on the oil.
Of course you can always stop in any old corner store or greasy spoon and pick up a classic jelly-filled (or maybe even chocolate, watch out) powdered sufganiya. It may not be something to write home about, but it's oily and delicious, just the way Hanukkah Harry would have wanted it.
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