While it’s mid-July for all of you folks (hey, enjoy) it’s already autumn in my head. The High Holy Days start rolling in early this year, On September 13 – Erev Rosh Hashanah – Fig Tree & Vine’s first big holiday season (we launched at Passover).
One of my longstanding goals is to change up the way we North American Jews approach Jewish holidays. Because so many of us are immersed in the Ashkenazy tradition, our celebrations – and especially our menus – are immersed in those traditions as well.
That’s not least because those of us who host these break fasts are well aware of the challenge of preparing them. They have to be made, of course, in advance. Therefore they are generally composed of cold dishes, or recipes that can stand long, gentle heating. If you and your guests have been fasting feverishly all day, by sundown you’ll be starving — but if you serve something as heavy as, say, a brisket, you run the risk of knocking everybody out (like those well-meaning GIs of WW2: after liberating the malnourished prisoners of concentration camps, they offered them their rich Western rations, thus promptly killing many of them). The habit of bagels or a kugel and fish thus makes a certain amount of sense: a fast rush of carbs with light protein, along with low-fuss prep work.
Still. This same Moroccan chef dazzled me with a whole alternative vision to this familiar Ashkenazy menu: a tableful of exotically flavored light dishes, mezze-style. It’s something I’ll present closer to the holidays – with enough time for others to join me in ditching the bagels ’n kugels as well.