Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Symbolism behind Jewish Foods

 Do you know why we eat cranberries with turkey? Or what mincemeat pies have to do with Christmas? I don't know, either. But I do recognize that in Jewish households, the food on the table usually has a specific connection to the holiday on which it is served. Here's a typical festive dinner for Hanukkah. Can you guess the reasons behind the choices?

  • Roasted beet salad with mixed greens--Roasting makes beets release their sugar
  • Braided challah--a symbol of the intertwined relationships in the Hebrew tradition
  • Whole baked fish (flounder or salmon) and whole beef brisket--both speak of abundance
  • Potato latkes with homemade applesauce--fried in hot oil, a reminder of the miracle of the oil
  • Cheese blintzes with sour cream--a reference to the story of Judith, who saved her people by over-feeding the enemy leader with cheese and then cutting off his head.
  • Roasted carrots--these, too, become very sweet when roasted
  • Tiny green beans with fried onions--more items fried in hot oil
  • Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts)--a triple threat: sweet, fried in oil, and filled with jelly surprise.
  • Rugelach--another pastry filled with sweetness.
Besides having a delicious meal, the diners also absorb the messages of Hanukkah. The hot oil never runs out. The world is full of surprises. And the holiday is filled with love and sweetness.

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