04 September 2010

Rosh Hashanah: Good eating

JTA's Rosh Hashana section has three interesting food-related stories.

One is by Linda Morel and how food traditions indicates ancestry. Tracing the Tribe noted it previously here.

Edmun J. Rodman - who attended the Los Angeles 2010 IAJGS conference and wrote a story about his experience - suggests celebrating with other than apples and honey, such as a chocolate egg cream - only with Fox's U-Bet syrup, of course.

In addition to taiglach, he recommends a new twist:

What about substituting another form of cooked dough, one with which many Jews are even more familiar: crispy chow mein noodles? We already eat them at Christmas; apparently even Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. So why not on a Jewish holiday?

For dipping, use the bright red sweet and sour sauce, of course. Let the dipping remind you to dip into your wallet; Rosh Hashanah is an auspicious time to make someone else’s new year sweet as well.
He also suggests various forms of pomegranates, seeds and juice.

Linda Morel has a story on cholent (Ashkenazi) or hamin (Sephardic) as the ultimate comfort food prior to the Yom Kippur fast, and provides several recipes.

Tracing the Tribe disagrees with her, but to each his - or her - own. I've never eaten a cholent or a hamin that I would consider comfort food. It is generally in the "discomfort food" category.

A nice Persian Rosh Hashanah dinner - numbers of dishes go up according to the number of people to be fed and color-coordination is imperative as all the senses must be satisfied - includes chicken soup with gondi (abgusht-e-gondi), plain steamed rice (chelo), at least two stews (khoresht, with chicken or meat) to ladle over the rice, one or two different rices mixed with herbs or nuts or vegetables (polo), a baked salmon sometimes stuffed, as well as all kinds of stuffed vegetables (dolmeh), various salads, and a good-sized dessert table of fruit, Persian baklava and other yummies. Of course, honey cake is a must for us.

A polo I like to make is a sweet with candied tangerine peel, shredded carrots, pistachios, with chicken baked in saffron. In fact, I save tangerine peels all year, clean all the white pith off them and finely slice them into narrow threads and dry them. When it comes time to make polo-shirin (sweet rice), I boil the threads in a sugar syrup and drain them thoroughly to mix with the rice. The sugar syrup becomes tangarine-scented in the process and is then good for using on baklava or Greek semolina cake, where a cold sweet syrup is poured over the hot pastry to be absorbed.

An all-beige table is a no-no. There should be red (tomato), green (herbs), white (rice), pink-orange (salmon), yellow (chicken soup). The more the merrier.

This year, we are invited out for Thursday and Friday dinners, so we'll keep our own Rosh Hashanah dinner very simple: abgusht-e-gondi or matzo balls (I prefer them), chelo and a khoresht, with my favorite honey cake.

We'll write about Yom Kippur - before and after the fast - next week.

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