An adventure in the wonderful (sticky) world of ‘teiglach’.

When we started working with our food artist Leo Burtin and Liverpool-based artists The Venus Collective, we all had no clue what teiglach even were. We knew we wanted to provide a unique theatrical experience for the Cheetham Cultural Festival (19th-22nd September) which reflected Cheetham’s Jewish food cultures and would give Cheetham a positive energy during the festival. With Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) starting just after the festival, the sticky sweet treats that are teiglach that are traditionally eaten at this time seemed an intriguingly natural choice. We all started on a journey that would feature culinary disasters, movingly heartfelt messages of kindness and a lot of honey!

Teiglachs apparently come from Lithuania but are particularly popular with Jewish communities in New York (where you have to order them 2 weeks in advance of Rosh Hashanah), Ireland and South Africa. It seems like Manchester is yet to fall in love with these little dough balls dipped in honey, ginger and cinnamon but we decided to make it our mission to change that!

Below is a link to the best recipe we have found so far. Why not give them a go?

Still feeling a bit confused about teiglach, we decided to have a practice over a September weekend. I much prefer savoury tastes, so I am bracing myself for something overly sweet but have no idea what to expect from these. We used a recipe from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food which involves making a satisfyingly stretchy dough. Rolling it into small spheres and boiling in honey, ginger and lemon rind starts to feel a bit wrong but we go with it. The kitchen fills with a perfumed scent that smells slightly medicinal and I’m hopeful they might end up yummy…

They don’t.

The weirdly unsweet dough is an unsettling contrast to the syrup and is also really hard. We feel down about it and with no frame of reference it is difficult to tell whether they are meant to be like this or whether we should try again.

We put them in the oven for 30 mins. This improves the situation as they go crispy but the dough is still needing something.

We keep them for 5 days and they improve steadily…interesting but still not perfection.

Some expert help was needed – we called in our amazing museum volunteers for a teiglach-making workshop at the Welcome Centre in Cheetham. An afternoon of laughter and serious teiglach perfection ensued. Tasmin and Naomi from the Venus Collective, as well as Naomi’s amazing mum had been practising industrial volumes of teiglach making at their shul in Liverpool. So they brought their experience and increasing passion (possibly obsession) for teiglach perfection to the group.

Culmination of teiglach shenanigans!

The Cheetham festival arrives and we set up camp at the Fort Shopping Centre in Cheetham Hill. The steady stream of shoppers are offered free gifts of teiglach and messages of kindness we have collected from residents at Heathlands and Tracy’s fabulous art group at the Nicky. Conversations are had with Cheetham shoppers from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. We especially enjoy taking to guys from India about the history of Jewish communities in Asia, local children about how they cheer up their friends and members of the Mancunian Jewish communities about plans for the new museum. We all went home wiser, stickier and hopefully kinder.

Special thanks to Lilian, Filis, Julian


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