I've a pot of chicken soup on the stove, though it's actually for tomorrow night's dinner.
We don't do this every year, but tonight we are planning a vegetarian dinner centered around the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah - most of which became so because of aramaic-hebrew or other multilingual puns.
In addition to the round challah, symbolizing the circle of life, and apples and honey associated with the wish for a sweet new year, our menu tonight includes
Kabocha squash stuffed with leeks, dates and rice
The word for Gourd or squash Aramaic is Karaa and is related to the Hebrew words “karaa” (to rip apart), and also “kara” (to announce). Eating squash is associated with a prayer that our merits be proclaimed before God and any harsh decrees be torn (an therefore not come to fruition)
The word for dates in Hebrew, Tamar, is related to the word “tam” (to end or finish) and the word for Leeks in Aramaic, Karti, is a word play on the Hebrew work Karat (to cut). Both come with a prayer for the ending, finishing, or cutting off of those who hate, wish evil, and oppress us.
My recipe tonight will be inspired by the stuffed pumpkin recipe in The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York - Claudia Roden
Honey Roasted Beets and Carrots with Pomegranate
The word for beets in Hebrew (silka) is related to the word for removal (siluk). Eating beets is often associated with a prayer to remove adversaries (typically interpreted as the spiritual roadblocks created by the past year’s missteps).
Carrots are doubly symbolic. The Hebrew word for carrot (gezer) sounds similar to the Hebrew word for decree (g'zar). In one tradition they are eaten on Rosh Hashanah for the same reason that squash is eaten, as another expression of the desire for God nullify any negative decrees against us...do you sense a theme yet?
The Yiddish words for carrots (mern) and more (mer), are similar. So among Yiddish speakers, eating carrots symbolize a desire for increased blessings in the new year. Pomegranates are also a hope for better future, because just as Pomegranates are full of seeds, we hope we'll be similarly full of merits in the coming year.
Black-eyed Peas and Greens
Egyptian Jews and others eat black-eyed peas (Rubya), related to a Hebrew word meaning a lot, many (rov). My husband’s family, who are from the South, have the tradition of eating Black-eyed pea and collards for the secular New Year, so I thought I would reprise it tonight.
שנה טובה ומתוקה
L'Shanah Tovah U'Metukah
A Good and Sweet New Year to my BookLikes friends who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah.