September 21, 2015

The Holiday Without a Special Food

The upcoming Jewish holidays of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are not known for any special foods like apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, doughnuts and latkes on Chanukah, hamantaschen on Purim, Matzoh on Pesach, and cheesecake on Shavuos. One might suggest stuffed cabbage on Simchat Torah but then that would be a stretch. The absence of any special food means that traditional dishes and even exotic ones are welcome. Open up any recent edition of Binah, Ami, or Mishpacha, all weekly magazines that also include food sections, and you are likely to see just that: festive dishes of every sort, from the most exotic meat dishes to mouthwatering desserts.

One of my foodie friends suggested that not having a designated food for Sukkot is actually a good thing because “it lets your imagination and creativity loose.” He added: “People spend more time than usual planning meals and simply trying to come up with something different.” As if to prove his point, I noticed women with iPads looking for ingredients at a major supermarket, recipe cards in the meat aisle, and much conversation amongst shoppers, “so what are you making for dessert on Yom Tov.” This part of the conversation usually followed: “how many people are you having for the holidays?” After everything was said and done, the holiday without any specific food has plenty of food.