This year, my role was to mostly play Grandma while my daughter and others cooked the traditional dishes of chicken soup with matzo balls, roasted brisket, bow ties & kasha, potato kugel, and more. For Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), the table groans with at least four courses. Guests squeeze around tables (sometimes more than one, end to end) to share in the celebratory feasting.
And then there's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement which is a day of fasting that begins before the sun sets and ends the following day... also after sunset. The Breaking of the Fast is yet another feast, in our family it is usually dairy. Bagels, lox & cream cheese, several salads, a soup and something hot like a sweet kugel or lasagna. Another delicious meal! That said...
Traditionally, the evening (or should I say afternoon) meal before fasting is a bland meal, eaten in a rush sometime around 4PM to make sure we get to the synagogue or temple before the sun sets. Bland so that we won't get thirsty - even water is included in the fast. Hurried, because we all want to get to temple before sunset. As a child, it was always a quick meal, usually some of the boiled chicken from the chicken soup and.... I don't even remember, but it was not my mother's best meal either, not like any other holiday meal and I would never use the word "feast" to describe it. In fact, this was not a meal we ever invited anyone to - just immediate family... in a hurry. In other words, my least favorite meal to prepare. Until this year. (and now for my usual digression...)
I just received a copy of Claudia Rosen's latest cookbook - The Food of Spain last week. I love Claudia Rosen - her recipes and her comprehensive research plus her wonderful story-telling. You'll hear more about it in the next few weeks, but it did make me take The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York, an earlier Claudia Rosen classic... Don't you love the title - so romantic and exotic... off my shelf and savor some tales and some tasty treats from Jewish kitchens throughout time and around the world... like the Lamb with Dried Fruit & Toasted Almonds that I adapted and served over a variation of one of my favorite couscous dishes - Couscous with Currants, Barberries & Mint to sop up the thick gravy of honey, ginger & cinnamon.
And, because couscous is a pasta, this is my sweet, yet savory entry for this week's Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Kirsten of From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours. Create a dish, write a post, mention and link to Presto Pasta Nights and From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours and send an email to kirstenmlindquist (at) gmail (dot) com and cc me ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com by Thursday to make it into Friday's roundup.