Diario Judío México - Musicians’s food cravings are legendary. Elvis famously flew from Graceland  to Denver for his favorite sandwich: An entire loaf of bread stuffed with a jar  of peanut butter, another of jelly and a pound of bacon.

Michael Jackson never hopped on a plane for his cravings. He had his personal  chef Akasha Richmond to whip up his favorites: Spicy enchiladas, fresh tortillas  and matzo ball soup.

In the mid-90’s MJ was living in the penthouse of the Manhattan Trump tower,  sharing a floor with Donald Trump. He was in town finishing up his epic HIStory  album.

Richmond was living a few blocks south at what was then the glamorous  Helmsley Palace (now the New York Palace), often picking up bagels on her short  walk up to Jackson’s apartment.

“One day Michael asked for lox and bagel for breakfast,” Richmond told me.  She was a bit surprised by the request but went with it. A few days later, he  asked her to make matzo ball soup.

“What do you know from matzo ball soup?” Richmond recalls retorting.

“I grew up with a Jewish nanny. I love matzo ball soup,” Jackson replied.

Richmond met Jackson back in the 1980’s when she was cooking at The Golden  Temple, one of L.A.’s first vegetarian spots known for playing host to  celebrities like Bob Dylan and Demi Moore. “He used to come there everyday. He  was really sweet and I used to take care of him,” Richmond recalls.

Soon she and another chef from The Golden Temple started cooking at Jackson’s  house. “He would have these epic dinner parties. He loved old Hollywood so  Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren might be there. You never knew  who would come over,” she says.

Over the next 14 years Richmond traveled with Jackson on his private plane to  30 countries, cooking for him on his HIStory and Bad tours. The crew built her a  six foot portable pantry stocked with his favorites — ingredients for Mexican  food and matzo meal. “I think for him [matzo ball soup] was comfort food,” she  explained.

Richmond never had a family matzo ball recipe so “I would make chicken stock  and then follow the recipe on the package…and add a good pinch of cayenne pepper  or minced jalapeño — he loved spicy food,” she said.

“I used to joke that I was Michael’s Jewish mother. I was supposed to keep  him healthy. When your on those tours it’s really grueling. I did whatever it  took: matzo ball soup, green juice, chai tea.”

A decade or so later, Richmond left the tour life to spend more time with her  daughter, but on the weekends she would trek out to Neverland Ranch to cook for  Jackson. “My daughter had her bat mitzvah party on the ranch…It was about the  best bat mitzvah you could have.”

Richmond went on to work as a personal chef for Barbra Streisand — cooking  meals from the vegetables grown in the Funny Girl’s backyard. And she continued  to experiment with Jewish food.

In 2008 Richmond opened Akasha, a new American restaurant in  the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles shortly before Passover. She closed  the restaurant for the night of Seder and invited friends, family and investors  for dinner, serving the same matzo ball soup — replacing the cayenne for a dash  of nutmeg. In September, she tried out the idea of hosting a Rosh Hashanah  dinner for her customers. It was a hit. “We had 200 covers ever night. We were  slammed,” she says. Jewish holidays at Akasha have become a tradition. “There  are so many levels of being Jewish. For a lot of people it comes down to the  food — that’s what they remember,” says Richmond.

Most of Richmond’s kitchen staff isn’t Jewish, so when she makes matzo ball  soup “I tell my chefs — this is the food of my grandmother. Don’t fuck with  it.”

Personally, she prefers hers matzo ball soup flavored with Thai ingredients  like lemongrass, turmeric and ginger. But for her restaurant’s annual Seders she  sticks with tradition — and prays. “I say a prayer over the matzo balls. I…ask  the god of matzo balls to make them light and fluffy. They make me so  nervous.”

Michael Jackson’s Favorite Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

2½ quarts homemade chicken stock 1 leek, white part only, cleaned, and  cut into thin matchsticks 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced 1/2 cup  matzo meal 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 tablespoons seltzer water 2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken fat Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 1  teaspoon fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper Fresh chopped parsley  and dill Optional: A dash of cayenne pepper or minced jalepeno  pepper

1) Add leeks and carrots to broth and simmer for 10 minutes (or until tender)  and turn off heat.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, olive oil, nutmeg,  salt and black pepper (and spice, if adding). Fold in the matzo meal and seltzer  water. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3) Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Wet your hands with cold  water and form the matzo mixture into 12 balls. Drop the matzo balls into  boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 30 minutes –  don’t open the lid. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the hot chicken  stock and vegetables. Garnish with lots of chopped parsley and dill. Makes 6-8  servings.

Source: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/196495/when-michael-jackson-loved-matzo-ball-soup#ixzz2yyb5iFwL

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