Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, Ancestral Foods

What’s a nice Jewish Girl doing in a place like this?

A Passover story of Exodus and with a taste of freedom.

I’m a sucker for motorcycles. You have to admit they are sexy. I used to think that a few excursions on a hog were the basis for a relationship. I worked in Pepe’s café a local hangout in Key West, and one day this handsome long haired biker dude walked in. It was love at first ride. His name was Harry, but I called him “Harley”. Two weeks later he was back in Tennessee, calling me every day, “honey I miss you, come home with me”.

So Harley, me, the bike, and my pregnant poodle, Prudence, piled into an old van to the hills of Powell Tennessee. It was right before Christmas and it was time to meet the family. Sonny (or Dad) was married to Gayle, who was young enough to be his daughter. The ex-wife, Billie Jean, lived up the hill with her Dobermans and loved her Wild Turkey. Younger brother Mark was about 7 feet tall, so I called him Lurch. In the trailer below Sonny’s house lived Uncle Fuzz and Granny Pearl. I was sure I was the only Jew they had ever met.

One evening we had car trouble, so we stopped at a local biker’s home. Coming from Long Island, who would ever think there was no indoor plumbing? Upon my return from the outhouse, I overheard one of Harleys buddies say” Hey Harry who’s the whore with you?” I then found out that Harley was married twice before and was a wife beater. I was doomed, I had a pregnant poodle, I was Jewish, and a Yankee. By that time, Harley and I moved into a house down the road from Sonny. It was here that I began to get really scared as Harley started to drink and threatened to hit me. One morning, I came downstairs and he was drunk and naked on his drum set playing “Baby, I’m a free bird”. Then things got weird. I knew there was trouble in them thar’ hills when Brother Mark said to me “what would you do if Prudence your sissy Jew dog disappeared?” Time for my personal exodus!

Fortunately, this hillbilly believed that everyone from New York was a Mafioso. It took little convincing that I was a descendant of Meyer Lansky and we were “connected”. I planned an elaborate escape, involving Chick Willard, the son of a well known Miami banker and partner of Bebe Rebozo. I also had my brother’s friend call with a thick New York Italian accent threatening Lurch, with cement shoes, and a swim in the Tennessee River. Chick called with his Southern accent and said “If you lay a hand on that girl or her dog, we’re going to pay you a visit, do you understand that boy?” I don’t think they knew what hit them. A day later, I was home safe in Key West.

The taste of freedom is precious. What could freedom possibly taste like? I would liken it to something weightless, light, sweet and airy. You want more of it, it’s wonderful. During Pesach, we use a lot of eggs to lighten or rise our baked goods. Since I am gluten free, this recipe is perfect for those who cannot partake, a taste of freedom that is a bit of heaven. The meringue can be made in advance of the day you will serve it. 


Mise en Place: You will need a large glass bowl, a mixer, parchment paper, and a baking sheet. The eggs must be a room temperature. Have a pencil handy along with a round template such as a plate. Pre heat oven to 300 degrees. This recipe calls for 6 eggs but you can add more, the ratio is 1 ounce of sugar per egg white.


  • 6 egg whites that were separated at room temperature.
  • 6 ounces of organic sugar
  • 1 can of coconut cream (drain the liquid) for Pareve or 4 ounces of whipping cream for dairy.
  • Strawberries
  • Passion fruit
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Shaved dark chocolate

Method: In the large glass bowl, add the egg whites (they must have no yolk at all), and start beating in 1 ounce of sugar at a time until it forms stiff peaks. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, use a template (an 8-10 inch round plate) and draw the circle on the parchment. Start spreading the meringue on the paper. It’s ok if it is a bit high, as it will drop after baking. Bake at 300 for about an hour. Then shut the oven off and allow to cool.

When it’s cooled, whip the coconut cream (or whipping cream) and spread on the top, garnish with sliced fruit, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Freedom!

About the Author
Laurel Herman is a Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food goes back to growing up in a home which welcomed everyone. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She has taught at various venues throughout the Richmond area. Now retired, but never from the love of food, active on Instagram Laurel also loves doing her podcast Chai talk with Laurel on Spotify. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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