(Courtesy of Kosher.com)
Purim is almost upon us, and the nice folks at Kosher.com have offered to send a tin of gourmet Hamentaschen to one of my blog readers or Twitter followers.
I highly recommend the holiday of Purim to those of you who are unfamiliar with it. It may well be the most joyous holiday in the Jewish calendar.
It celebrates one of the relatively few heroines in the Bible—Queen Esther of Persia. Here’s a brief rundown of her story:
A young Jewish girl in the fourth century B.C.E., Esther won a beauty pageant held by King Ahasuerus (a.k.a. Xerxes), who was looking for a new wife. He had executed the previous one in a fit of pique. He replaced her with Esther.
Esther’s cousin and former guardian, Mordecai, warned her not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Living in exile in Persia, the Jews were often subjected to anti-Semitism.
The king’s evil counselor, Haman, took offense when Mordecai refused to bow down to him and arranged to have all the Jews in the country killed. Esther went to the king and revealed her identity. This act took great courage, given the fate of her predecessor. Esther pulled it off, however.
In the end, the horrible Haman was hanged at the gallows he had erected for Mordecai. Esther and the Jewish people were given permission to defend themselves against their enemies. Jews in Persia held a HUGE party to celebrate their brave, beautiful queen and their enhanced status.
To commemorate Esther’s resourcefulness Jewish people party on Purim. It’s a time for dressing up in costumes and playing pranks. It’s also a time for giving to the needy and for exchanging gifts of food. And it’s a time for getting drunk—or at least for seeing the world from a new, youthful perspective.
"Esther" by John Everett Millais (Courtesy of the Tate Online)
Hamentaschen are a sweet Purim treat. I’ve loved them all my life. They rank somewhere between a cookie and a small cake in bakeries. They are triangular (some say to mimic the shape of nasty Haman’s tricorn hat). And they’re enhanced with poppy seed or fruit filling.
As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Hamentaschen are occasionally filled with and/or covered with chocolate in our chocoholic culture!
I’ll be posting a traditional Hamentaschen recipe soon. Meanwhile, I encourage you to enter the drawing from Kosher.com. Here’s what you have to do:
Leave a comment on this blog or post a tweet from now through this coming Friday, February 12. I’ll cut off entries at midnight EST.
The comment or tweet should contain two pieces of information.
First, it should tell me what YOUR favorite food holiday—religious or non-religious—is.
Second, it should provide a link to the Kosher.com web site. Find something on the site that intrigues you—a recipe, a product (they have tasty foods available year round, not just for Purim!), a piece of information about a Jewish holiday.
If you choose to tweet rather than post a comment here, please send a tweet to me (remember, my Twitter name is LaTinque) so I won’t miss your contribution!
Next Monday, February 15, I will randomly select a winner from the comments and tweets. Kosher.com will send that lucky person the tin of Hamentaschen. It should arrive in plenty of time to help you usher in Purim on February 28.
As they said of Levy’s rye bread, you don’t have to be Jewish to love Hamentaschen!
While you’re thinking about your comment and/or tweet, you might like to try this recipe from Kosher.com’s Chef Jamie Geller.
Jamie has provided several recipes that enable readers to consume alcohol during Purim without getting drunk. She calls them her “saucy” selections. This soup will enable you to celebrate this holiday without going overboard.
I look forward to reading your comments……
Jamie's Soup (Courtesy of Kosher.com)
Kosher Italian Bean Soup
(Courtesy of Kosher.com and Jamie Geller)
1 medium onion, quartered
6 cups water
3 cups Imagine Organic No-Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
10 baby carrots
10 baby zucchini
1 frozen crushed garlic cube
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Place all ingredients in a 6-quart stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook it uncovered for 18 to 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 8.
Jamie Geller (Courtesy of Kosher.com)
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