Sunday, March 16, 2008

Food and Wine Reminds Me of Passover

I recently started a subscription to Food and Wine Magazine. I bought it to support a fundraiser and it was one in a list of magazine subscriptions that I could choose from. So far I’ve gotten two issues, and I’m enjoying them.

I’ve tried two recipes in this latest issue. It is the issue that precedes the Jewish holiday of Passover, and therefore offers a sampling of their takes on Passover recipes.

While I’m not particularly religious these days (and I’m married to an ex-catholic), I was brought up in a Jewish home, attended Hebrew School, went to synagogue almost every week, and had a successful Bat Mitzvah at the age of 13. I will try to remember my lessons from so many years ago to explain the holiday.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), it is a week long (actually 8 days) holiday that commemorates the Jews liberating themselves from slavery. If I remember correctly, the story goes that God told the Jews to put lamb’s blood on their doors. Therefore when the city was raided, the sign of blood would be seen on their doors and the people inside would be “passed over” instead of killed.

Afterward, the Jews escaped to the dessert. They made unleavened bread, or matzo, because they were unable to stay in one place for any length of time and let the bread rise.

So today, Jews forgo leavened bread during the week of Passover, and therefore have a number of traditional recipes that are typical during this week. Food and Wine this month included recipes for a Potato Kugel, Matzo Ball Soup, and a version of tzimmes called Honeyed Carrots with Currants and Saffron. That is the Passover recipe I chose to make.

There are different versions of tzimmes. In general, tzimmes is an orange vegetable dish that is sweetened with honey and fruit. The type of tzimmes that I am accustomed to has sweet potatoes, carrots, and prunes. It is a heavy side dish. My mother says that her mother’s tzimmes was extremely sweet. She said she tried to make it, but it never seemed to come out right. To be honest, Mom was never much of a cook though, and I really want to get hold of that recipe now and give it a try. But until then, I decided to give the Food and Wine recipe a try.

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