Making TV 'Golden' again

While rehabbing at home, I spend a lot of time after those hard-work therapists’ visits relaxing on the living room couch, watching TV.
There isn’t too much daytime television that I really want to see except for reruns of the ground-breaking “Golden Girls,” which aired from 1985 to 1992. Four older women sharing one house, learning how to accommodate four distinctly different personalities and temperaments every day.
It’s impressive, comedic mother-daughter pair was played by two well-known Jewish actresses: big-boned Bea Arthur as 60-year-old Dorothy, towering over petite Estelle Getty as Sophia, her on-screen Italian mama of 80. In real life, Getty was actually a year younger than Arthur when she played the domineering but always forgiving daughter’s irascible parent. Unfortunately, after the first few years, she began exhibiting signs of dementia that brought the Girls to an earlier end than the series might have had otherwise.
Sometimes I have the TV on even when I’m not really watching, turning off the sound and keeping just the picture. Then I’ll usually stay tuned to the food channel, the one place where I can glance at the screen and immediately understand what’s going on. Most often, however, I don’t like what I see.
All the great television chefs have one thing in common: treif! Although I’m not much of a cook myself, I know enough to state unequivocally that delicious baked beans can be made without a ham hock … that it’s unnecessary to top off every beef dish with a pat of butter or a dollop of Daisy … that all chicken doesn’t need a grated cheese embellishment. And that everything does not taste better with bacon.
The food channel has me playing my Boubby the Philosopher’s old “game:” always looking out for names that appear Jewish and saying “Oy vey! Not good for us!” if they’re connected to bad behaviors like robbing banks or eating seafood. There are lots of those names on the Food Network, cooking up the treif themselves or judging contests where they must sample the treif prepared by others.
Obviously, none of them had a Boubby like mine, who taught me not to crack six or eight — or even two — eggs into the same bowl at the same time. What if one of them, God forbid, had a blood spot? Then I’d have to throw all of them out!
I once had a neighbor who showed me how she made three spaghetti dinners at once. Into a huge pot she put a whole chicken, a large chunk of beef and a generous amount of Italian sausage, along with the standard tomatoes and seasonings. The pasta itself she cooked separately to serve as a first course with some of the sauce; only after that did a platter of one meat come to the table.
“People eat less meat when they’ve already filled up on the spaghetti,” advised practical Dottie.
As a devout non-cook also charged with feeding a family, I appreciated this budget-stretching lesson, and I made a very successful sauce using veal instead of sausage. To thank Dottie, I told her that matzo meal is much better than bread crumbs when preparing fish for frying. She began to use my tip immediately — for breading her pork chops!
I’ve caught a rerun of the home-and-garden episode in which the popular Property Brothers remodeled a house for a frum family and installed a kosher kitchen, educating viewers about such new-to-TV amenities as a hand-washing station. I’d love to see a show filmed in a kitchen like that. How about The Kosher Chef? Instead of Barefoot Contessa, maybe Queen Esther Cooks? Or a new Pioneer Woman featuring “Shtetl Specialties”?
The Golden Girls stirred a lot of on-screen pots, but were mostly shown eating cheesecake and ice cream. Bea and Estelle are both long-gone now, but if we could bring them back as “The Golden Medina Girls,” I know American women would all learn something!

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