Thursday, March 20, 2008

Purim Tonight!

Purim, the feast of Esther, begins at sundown tonight. Want some info on the holiday and how to celebrate it? Check this out. Want to know what to eat? Read some adapted excerpts from an article I wrote for the Temple Beth Abraham Omer below.

The Foods of Purim: The Whole Megillah (FYI -- the Megillah is used to mean the whole story in Jewish "slang" and refers to the Book of Esther which is where the story is told.)

The most popular foods of Purim are probably hamanstachen (the link above has a recipe), the Ashkenazi cookie symbolizing Haman’s tri-cornered hat and the other pastries associated with the evil vizier. But that’s not the whole “megillah;” there are many foods that add to a Purim celebration.

Some say the meal should be vegetarian or dairy or at least include beans since Esther is said to have eschewed meat for legumes during her time in Ashaheurus’ court. Others include fish or dishes with chicken, lamb, and other meats. Based on these diverse customs, here are some ideas for your own Purim feast:

Serve kreplach. This meat-stuffed noodle is traditional for Purim because of its shape reminiscent of Haman’s ear and/or hat. Or try a modern twist – tortellini, it has the right shape and is readily available.

Try serving a dish that is not what it seems to be. Dressing up and disguise are part of Purim, so try vegetarian chopped liver or spaghetti squash instead of pasta and/or vegetarian “meatballs.”

Go sweet and sour. Sweet and sour foods suit the nature of the holiday, reminding us of the bitterness of Haman’s actions and the redemption that followed. Try sweet and sour meatballs or sweet and sour lentils.

Bake challah in triangular loaves to represent Haman’s ears. Use some of it to make French toast, known as Queen Esther’s Toast or Purim Fritters, once a popular way to celebrate Purim.

Drink up. Rabbis have said that one should drink on Purim until one can’t distinguish the difference between “blessed is Mordecai” and “cursed is Haman.” Go with the flow. Splash some vodka or tequila into your chicken marinade. Add wine to your beef or fish recipes. Want to give it a try? My Limoncello Tuna recipe here.

See my previous write up of Purim here.

Want to get recipes for the dishes mentioned above? Check out Temple Beth Abraham's cookbook From Everyday to Holiday. It is available for $25 including U.S. postage from the TBA office. Call 510.832.0936 to order.
About the photo: A quick snap of Temple Beth Abraham's Purim Celebration featuring the Purim Rock 'n Roll Band.

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