Stuffed vegetables are a central part of the Jewish culinary canon, but growing up I thought they were limited to cabbage and peppers. Only when I moved to Israel did I come to appreciate the sheer multitude of vegetables that can be stuffed — peppers and cabbage yes, but also tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, onions, and more. Of all of them it was the stuffed onions that were a true revelation, those delicate, tear-inducing layers wrapped around sweet and savory mixtures of meat and stewed until rich and tender.
The elderly woman steps up to her stove, quite agile for her 80-something years and pushes aside the platter of fried fish fillets we are not quite ready for. “Now you put [in] the sour,” she says to me dipping her fingers into the plastic spice jar and sprinkling the powder into the bubbling sauce. I try and estimate about how much she is using.