Besides our usual events, this is the time of year we are busy making hamantashen for Purim and planning for Passover. The Passover plans are a major upheaval in their own right. Not only is the kitchen unavailable for it’s usual operations, but it’s been turned upside down (just like at home) to be cleaned of all chamatz. The pots, pans, utensils of Passover exchanged with their regular equivlants. So expect the kitchen to be unavailable from the evening of Sunday, March 29th through Passover as the cleaning and seder preparations begin. After Purim is over, if you have any foodstuffs you care about that are stored in the CBA refrigerator or freezer, please make plans for removing them. Anything left after the morning of Sunday, March 29th will be donated, so that the refrigerator & freezer can be cleaned as well.
Purim: Munching on
Traditional Holiday Treats
Right now, as I write these words, we are in the middle of making Hamantashen treats for all of us to enjoy at Purim; but consider—there are so many other traditional foods for Purim with their own meanings. Where can one begin?
Let’s first start with Queen Esther. When she became queen, she still kept her kosher diet (in a non kosher environment) by eating mostly beans, peas, nuts, and seeds. So we see many traditional dishes and side dishes either featuring these items or spiced with these foods to remind us of her bravery and dedication to maintaining her hidden Jewish identity and observance to G-d while maintaining her roll as Queen.
Then there is the hidden aspect or secrets in Purim. The Megillah has Esther, the Queen, as a hidden Jew in the Court of Ahashuerus, and G-d, whose name isn’t mentioned in the Megillah, is always present, but also hidden. Foods that follow this tradition are the Ashkanazi serving kreplach, a hidden pocket of meat, or the Hungarian & Romanian custom of serving Arany Galuska, a fried dough ball filled with custard, and don’t forget the closed Hamantashen, Haman’s pockets filled with another secret, yummy treat.
Favorite traditions deal directly with Wicked Haman. From Russia there is a traditional Purim Challah, Keylitsh, which represents the rope that hangs Haman. Another tradition, this from Morocco, is Ojos de Haman which is a special sweet challah-like bread roll shaped like a head and inserted with hard boiled eggs which represents the eyes of Haman. There are many traditional ways to relish consuming Haman’s twisted ears. Hamantashen referred to as Haman’s ears is my most familiar one, but there are others; from Sephardic Jews there is oznei Haman or orejas (or hojuelas) d’haman, from Italy we have Orecci d’Aman and from France we have Palmiers, each tradition with it’s own recipe to make cookies shaped like ears. Wait, there are more interesting traditions: from Turkey and Greece there is the tradition of eating wicked Haman’s Fingers which is a phyllo rolled cookie, and from Bulgaria there is a pasta dish made with speghettini or vermacelli, Caveos D’Aman, which traditionally represents Haman’s Hair.
Whichever tradition you follow or try; enjoy it!