A Sweet Celebration
The sweeter the better - that's the best rule for cooks to observe when it comes to creating a feast for Rosh Hashanah, a time when sugar and spice combine to produce a spread as symbolic as it is sumptuous. And, with two festive meals a day, bitterness is banished before the digestive process is even under way.
Keeping sweet and avoiding tart tastes, it is believed, will usher in a year full of goodness and delight.
To this end, traditional dishes get a special twist and sweet-talk in the kitchen is all part of the preparation. On Rosh Hashanah, there might be something to be said for the old adage "an apple a day." It's customary to dip apples, representing joy and blessing, in honey and say: "May it be Your will Ha Sham that You renew for us a good and sweet year."
However, a little literary agility can be as propitious as a spoonful of sugar - foods with names that lend themselves towards positive signs are also used. For instance, the Hebrew word for carrot is "gezer," which also means decree. So munching a carrot is also a request that any evil decree will be withheld in the coming year.
The wordplay also crosses over into English - it is not unknown for people to take a stalk of celery and a handful of raisins and, prior to eating them, request help in getting a raise in salary! Eating a pomegranate signifies the wish that merits will increase, like the seeds of the fruit, while fish represent a prayer for fertility. The very meticulous will bring the head of an animal onto their table to request that they be "as the head and not the tail."
And, while raisins even find their way into staples such as Challah (bread), nuts are to be avoided. This is due of their tendency to lodge in the throat, thus precluding prayer and because they have the same numerical equivalent in Hebrew as sin.
Still, some might say the popular Rosh Hashanah recipes are more than a bit 'sinful'!
Why not visit our recipe section to try some for yourself? Enjoy!