To Die for Mandel Bread

okay, in person it was quite the sight, 1983, pregnant with Oliver

I’m not exaggerating when I say I gained a person during my first pregnancy. Not an eight-pound person, a fifty-pound person. And fifty looks more like a hundred on my tiny frame. I’ll try to track down a picture to prove it.
At the time, I was often seen in the nicest restaurants sporting a leopard print Fiorucci number, a one-piece that was meant to have a big belt cinching it to show off your hot early-eighties bod. But I was dressing “for two” and looked more like a giant spotted pumpkin than the sexy dame I thought I was. Strangers laughed at me when they took in the sight. A real ego booster.
Cedars, where I gave birth, became a huge party where all my friends visited at all hours. I was one of the first of us to have a kid. Okay, Kimme, Sherry and Barbara started a bit before me, but it really seemed like I was hosting a big premiere. Think “The Wizard of Oz” and the moment she wakes from the dream, looks around the room and says to each person “…and you were there, and you were there…. “ Well, all of YOU reading this were probably there — only it wasn’t a dream.
Periodically, everyone would leave my room en masse to visit the nursery to look at my new, perfect, ten-days-late, stunning child with the Mick Jagger lips. And no, I didn’t fuck Mick — though I met him a few months after Oliver was born and told him it WAS his baby. Should I totally digress to that story? Sure, why not.
The Father of My Kids had decided he needed to get a PHD at New York University, so we were living in the East Village. One of my best friends, Stacey, was staying with us for a few weeks, and out of the blue a director friend of hers called to book her into a music video with Bette Midler and Mick Jagger singing “Beast of Burden.” Apparently, the “General Hospital” actress who had been hired was a no-show and the director had worked with Stacey before and adored her. She invited me to visit the set. Whenever any of us worked, we always invited each other over, so this was not out of the ordinary. And because Oliver, my baby, had those really full amazing lips, I’d already joked many times that it was Mick’s baby. A private joke. But then seeing Jagger there in the flesh, I could not control myself. Without waiting for an introduction, I yelled, and I mean loudly, ”Hey Mick, your baby!!” gesturing to Oliver in my arms. Now mind you, it was the early 80’s; he could easily have slept with me somewhere, sometime and not known or remembered.
Instead of fearing a potential stalker, Mick marched right over, got extremely close to my face and introduced himself (I was speechless — rare, right?). He told me he loves babies and then proceeded to put my own baby’s fingers in his mouth and suck on them — with his ginormous MICK JAGGER lips! Are you kidding?
But let’s cut back to the hospital room. I’m now alone, abandoned by everyone. The doctor had performed a Caesarean and I was in excruciating pain, with strange staples in my stomach. The fact that the birth ended up being a C-section without anesthetic is for a whole other blog — the grotesque medical malpractice blog — but I’ll spare you a second digression.
Anyway, just before my gang of friends and family deserted me, a friend who comes from a long line of bakers, baked me her famous mandel bread that she knew I loved. Upon handing me this generous offering, she fled with the rest of them. I hardly noticed. I already knew what it was and, unable to control my excitement, tore through the wrapping – then dove in, mouth first. I instantly became aware that I was choking. Not just your regular, I will stop choking in a few seconds choking. No, this was full-blown I’m-about-to-die- here-and-now choking. And sadly, I couldn’t really cough because of the surgery. It hurt too much to save my life. So, for several critical seconds I sat there, unable to help myself at all.
The life that passed before my eyes was pathetically short. I was only 29. If I checked out, my baby would have only had a mother for a few days. I also needed to tell Eileen how much I loved her mandel bread. So, it would be rude to die. And I needed to hear more praise for how stunning my newborn was. I absolutely had to live. And somehow, I did. Was the mandel bread worth almost dying over … you bet it was!

Oliver and his Mick Jagger lips

Mandel Bread recipe (not Eileens, her house is under construction and she couldn’t find it” ) from the internet Jewishrecipes

Recipe Ingredients:
3 c flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
tsp vanilla
3 jumbo eggs
1/2 – 3/4 c canola oil
1 ± 1/2 c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Then, stir the eggs into the mixture.

Next, kneed the canola oil into the mixture.

Add chocolate chips to the dough and kneed the mixture again. Divide the batter into four loaves (2″- 3″ wide, 1.5″ high).

Place the loaves onto one greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven.

Once the loaves are baked enough so that they are a golden brown in color and crack, slice them immediately (1/2″ wide).

Separate the slices as much as possible.

Place the slices back in the oven so that they bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Eileen didn’t make mine with chocolate chips, you can or even add nuts and I do remember that she made these in vintage tin ice trays which I thought was very cool

more Mick Jagger lips

exactly what Oliver and I looked like the day we met Mick, including what we wore

Beast of Burden video with my friend Stacey Nelkin, my new friend Mick Jagger and Bette Midler below

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8 Responses to “To Die for Mandel Bread”

  1. pauli moss says:

    Somehow I think I will never eat mandel bread…ever. But I loved every word in your story – I totally related. Wonderful photo as well.

  2. Why the heck is it called Mandel bread? It doesn’t sound jewish – sounds like chocolat chip bread! YUM!! I want some. Ok – on to Mick – I always thought those lips were amazing and cracked up at your account. Do you know that last year he was dancing at Julliard for a video shoot. My daughter Allison saw and watched him dance and told me that he is SOOOOOO OLDDDDD! However, a good dancer. Must be those lips keeping him moving!!! Just think – Oliver’s fingers are famous!

    xxoo and I want some jewish bread!

  3. toni miller says:

    Hi girl,
    I am so happy to be witnessing the birth of your first book of short stories! What??? Never considered putting all of your food blogs together for a funny, insightful, authentic-voiced compilation? Well the seed is planted and it must be done! I love to read everything you write and need it on my bookshelf!!!


  4. Madeline says:

    What I want to know is if that is the same CAT you always post on FB??

  5. Janet Petkin says:

    You are so talented: there is a career in this for you.

  6. jennifer arbaugh says:

    Another sardonic blog. Love the big lips and Jagger.

    You continue to capture humour, do not stop writing. You are putting the Eprhon sister’s to shame..

    jen your buddy in the Cin City

    have u listed a brisket receipe? Mine is to drool for….

  7. I’ve read a few good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make such a fantastic informative website.

  8. Eileen Mumy says:

    I’m the guilty one. Mandel bread is the Jewish version of biscotti and is VERY dry….requires a coffee from Startbucks or a great cup of tea or a cold glass of milk. You lived to tell the tale of course and I know you forgive me! I forgot you lived in NY but never forgot I almost killed you thanks for the memories. Love Eileen

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