Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year - and it started at sundown yesterday. It seems strange to start a new year in the early days of Autumn, rather than the dead of winter, but plenty of other cultures have done it. The Celtic new year is Halloween, the middle of Autumn.

My ex-husband is Jewish although not observant by any stretch. But his parents were Conservative Jews, which means, as far as I can tell, they attend Synagogue regularly and have separate dishes for milk-based and meat-based meals and celebrate all the Jewish holidays. My ex and I used to attend the big holiday meals, for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and wow did I love the food. My mother is an awful cook (and my daughter assures me I have inherited this trait) and our family never went out to restaurants so I was very deprived, food-wise, growing up. I never had cheese that was not pasturized-processed pre-sliced American Cheese until I was 15. That's also how old I was the first time I had a bagel. So traditional Jewish food was new and exciting to me, and my first experience with a bona fide ethnic cuisine.

Although one of my favorite Jewish dishes, kugel, at least classic kugel, is basically glorified mac-and-cheese, as this Alton Brown recipe demonstrates, but there are many variations, including with raisins and with broccoli. Mmm yummy.