Nov 22, 2011

Memories of Phyllo Dough and Baking Apples

I love the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  That's right, the day before the actual holiday.  Of course, part of the reason I used to love it was that after work was done (or school when I was younger), it was the beginning of a break of four days in a row.

But that's not really why I still love it.  The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving holds one of my favorite traditions from my family.

My Viennese father and Paige
When I was growing up, the night before Thanksgiving was reserved for a family gathering of apfelstrudel preparation.  (Apfelstrudel is an Austrian specialty. Apfel is German for apple, and strudel, well, I think strudel is strudel, right?)

My dad lugged our heavy box tv into the kitchen and rearranged the bunny ear antenna.  We watched a holiday program while we worked.  My sister, dad and I were recruited to peel and cut apples.  My mom worked with the phyllo dough, rubbing oil, rolling in apples, and baking to golden perfection.

We worked all evening, or at least that's what my childhood memory recalls, making strudel after strudel.  Even though this was our Thanksgiving weekend tradition, the strudel was not made to be enjoyed on the food-filled holiday.  Each strudel was wrapped in foil and frozen, to be given out to and enjoyed by family friends throughout the holiday season.

Winter in Vienna
The funny thing about this being one of my favorite traditions, is that I never actual enjoyed eating the strudel.  To those of you who do not already know this about me, I am not a fan of cooked apples.  I love raw apples and applesauce, but I do not like apple pie, apple crisp, homemade applesauce, or anything made with apples that have been cooked or baked.  There is just something about the mushy texture and flavor.

(Even weirder still is that I can enjoy every part of the baked apple product -- the crust, gooey filling -- but the actual apple.  Anyway...)

Adam and I have not continued this tradition with our own family.  Partially because we have two young girls who can't yet be recruited to peel apples.  Partially because it just doesn't work with our schedule.  And partially because I don't eat the apfelstrudel.  (I'm not usually one to make things I don't eat.)

But as we approach Wednesday, and I think of that happy tradition, I wonder if someday we can incorporate it into our new family.  Because, even though it's a lot of work, even though I don't eat it, that memory, and that pastry, is part of who I am.  And who doesn't want to pass that on to the next generation?


Linking up with Mama Kat



  1. That's a nice tradition--I like apple strudel and would be happy to help you eat it!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Stopping by from Writer's workshop:

    1. If/when I ever start making it, I'll send some your way!

  2. great story!! I think the rabbit ear tv in the kitchen is my favorite detail. enjoy your holiday!
    (stopping by from Mama Kat's)

  3. Awww, LOVE that you get excited on the Wednesday before. :) I do too! Great memories!!


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