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Bah Baklava

September 7, 2018

Yelp may be trying to kill me.

Last night I went on a pizza tour of Chicago, and I went into it with a healthy dose of apprehension. I’ve had Chicago style deep dish before. I know how heavy it can be. And we were going to stop at three different places in one night.

As it turned out, we only sampled one deep dish pie. We also had one pan pizza, which was fundamentally a different style. And there was also a thin crust place thrown into the mix. The results and thoughts on the pizza tour is a whole different post. One that I can’t possible write right now.

It took a long walk in the fresh air and a restorative glass of sambuca to get me feeling right again. But that’s okay, because I’ve had a food rant rattling around in my head for awhile now, and this seems like the perfect time to get it out.

We need to talk about baklava.

Baklava is one of those dishes that I’ve eaten a lot and really want to love. The appeal of the dessert is strong. Thin layers of crispy, flaky pastry, filled with chopped nuts, and bound together with honey? It’s sweetness, cut with richness.

But it never lives up to its promise.

Baklava is often soggy, sticky, and one dimensional. It’s difficult to share. Oddly expensive for what it is. And most of the time too sweet for its own good.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t some great nut and honey pastries. There most definitely are. I’m sure I cannot remember their names, but I tried a bunch of them at the middle eastern bakery in Dearborn, Michigan.

Man, I long for those treats. However, they were decidedly different from run-of the mill baklava. Although, if you click on the link above, you will see a little tell tale square of the stuff on the tray. However, it was the weakest of the bunch.

I’m wondering if I am alone on this, or if anyone is going to rise up with me and be counted for the record. Because maybe, if we all stop ordering the stuff, the places that sell baklava will expand their offerings to include something better.

This weekend I’ll be using honey for religious purposes. Sunday night is Erev Rosh Hashanah, or the start of the Jewish New Year. To help make sure it’s a sweet one, we’ll drizzle honey on challah, and maybe even dip some apples in the stuff.

Challah with a great salted butter and a drizzle of honey, is so much better than baklava, I can’t even stand it. Seriously, what reason is there for buying a piece of that sandy, sticky, sodden square of sadness? You know, besides being a prisoner of hope.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. llcwine permalink
    September 7, 2018 9:27 am

    Daniel,
    Wishing you and your family L’Shana Tova and enjoy good local honey any which way you can get it!!!

  2. September 7, 2018 10:28 am

    Baklava is fine. No place that sells it should stop selling it. It is a traditional food that has a form and it is fine. This is all nonsense.

  3. Rabbi Don Cashman permalink
    September 7, 2018 11:02 am

    Sometime during the holiday season my wife will make baklava with pistachios. If not for R”H, then for Sukkot. I’m sorry your experiences have been disappointing. L’shanah Tova.

  4. B. Maggi permalink
    September 7, 2018 11:07 am

    I love Baklava in all forms. I have had good and bad baklava. For me, there is “overpriced baklava” and “excellent baklava.” It is, without a doubt, the only food dish I will probably never make in my life. I just don’t have the desire to put in all that work. I leave it to others.

    As Paul Simon sung on the long-considered lost verse of his song “Kodachrome”:
    “Daniel don’t take my baklava, Daniel don’t take my baklava, Daniel don’t take my baklava away.”

  5. September 7, 2018 12:28 pm

    You’re right! Most of the baklava I have had in my life has been stale, maybe because it’s made with stale prepackaged phyllo sheets or maybe because it’s been sitting around awhile since it’s too expensive to move quickly.

    Oddly enough the best baklava I have ever eaten was at the Harry & David store in Medford, OR. It was baked on the premises in volume and available fresh. A revelation.

  6. albanylandlord permalink
    September 10, 2018 5:58 pm

    I never really thought about it before somehow… I see baklava infrequently enough that it always seems like a special and unique treat, so I often order it when I see it a time or two a year. But the idea of baklava is always better than the actual baklava…

    Your rant is good and will cause me to rethink it.

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