Beyond the H-word: Other Purim Foods

By MARK MIETKIEWICZ

Name a traditional food associated with Purim. Good. Now name another. If you have trouble getting beyond the H-word (hamantaschen), then you’re in for a treat. There’s nothing wrong with that prune, poppy or chocolate-filled delight. But isn’t it time to give Aranygaluska, Fazuelos and Ojos de Haman a chance?

Visit the website links listed to explore each topic further. 

OK, let’s start with something a bit more familiar: kreplach.

What’s the connection between Purim and a Jewish dumpling? According to Chabad, “Hamantaschen and kreplach, both with their fillings hidden inside, allude to the hidden nature of the Purim miracle.” [http://bit.ly/pfood2] MyJewishLearning.com continues. “Kreplach are customarily eaten whenever a ‘beating’ takes place: before Yom Kippur when men have flogged themselves [rarely done in modern times], on Hoshanah Rabbah when willow branches are beaten, and on Purim when Haman is beaten.” [bit.ly/pfood3]

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What is it with Jews’ preoccupation with Haman’s anatomy? We eat hamantaschen better known in Israel as Oznei Haman – or Haman’s Ears. Sephardic Fazuelos share the same meaning as their Ashkenazi counterpart but the similarity ends there. These are light strips of dough fried and sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. [bit.ly/pfood4] Done with his ears? Then dig into his eyes. Ojos de Haman (Haman’s Eyes) has pastry dough wrapped around hard-boiled eggs to create grotesque facsimiles of Purim’s villain. The eyes/eggs are then gouged out at the festive meal. [bit.ly/pfood6]

Purim is unique among all the holidays in the Jewish calendar in that we enjoy that festive meal as the holiday is winding down. [bit.ly/pfood7] Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov explains that “the Purim Feast is especially significant in that it elevates the soul as it provides pleasure to the body. It is thus stated in the Zohar that on Purim one may accomplish through bodily pleasure, what he can accomplish on Yom Kippur through bodily affliction.” [bit.ly/pfood8]

You may have your own traditional menu but if you want to try something a bit different this Purim, go back to the source: The Jewish-food Purim Archives has recipes for Persian lamb and apricot pilaf, Persian meat patties (Shami), Persian poached pears and Persian poppy seed puffs. [bit.ly/pfood9] The large Iranian/Persian recipes page looks appealing but you will have to make appropriate substitutions since this isn’t a kosher site. [bit.ly/pfood10]

No worries about that at Chabad.org with this gourmet menu: Pesce al Cartoccio with spinach, egg and onion salad, cream of chicken soup, pickled tongue in apricot sauce, and two-tone potato roll. If that feels too onerous, there’s a helpful link to “The Easy Menu.” [bit.ly/pfood12]

How to top off the meal?

Aranygaluska is a traditional Hungarian dumpling coffee cake for Purim with “balls of a rich yeast dough dipped in oil and rolled in ground walnuts. It is then layered and baked in a tube pan.” [bit.ly/pfood13]

Or you could go with Linda Haim Meadows’ Ba’ba Beh Tamur (Iraqi pastries with almond or date filling) [bit.ly/pfood14] or and some homemade Persian halvah. [bit.ly/pfood15]

After all that you may need a drink. There is the well-known — and somewhat curious — custom of getting so drunk that you don’t know the difference between Mordechai and Haman. Before you reach for one too many drinks, take a look at the Neveh Zion Purim Page which advises how much to drink: not so much that would cause you to err while performing a single mitzvah. And why we drink: “Many of the miracles in the Megillah occurred during a party where wine was drunk, therefore we are obligated to drink wine to commemorate these miracles.” [bit.ly/pfood17]

On Purim, Eli Birnbaum likes to enjoy his homemade Israeli orange brandy whose recipe he is good enough to share with us. Birnbaum offers a rationale for imbibing on Purim, in moderation of course. “There are no absolutes in this world other than God. Everything can be used for good and evil. So too we celebrate our salvation from Haman by showing that even intoxication can be used to elevate one’s soul.” [bit.ly/pfood16]