Today is Tu B’Shvat – the New Year for Trees – Rosh Hashana la’Ilanot. In Israel beautiful almond trees are now in full blossom, new trees are planted toda and people eat dried fruits and almonds.
Tu B’Shvat is mentioned in Mishnayos Rosh Hashana as one of four New Years in the Jewish calendar. the ARIZa”L (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) and his disciples, in the 16th century, used to celebrate this day by conducting a seder where ten fruits specific to Israel were consumed with cups of wine. The idea was that eating those fruits in a specific order while reciting the appropriate blessings would bring the world closer to spiritual pertfection.
Popular Tu b’Shevat dishes include: Hungarian wine soup (borleves), Moroccan orange salad (salata latsheen), Middle Eastern bulgur-stuffed cabbage (malfoof mahshee), Bukharan vegetable and fruit stew (dimlama), Bukharan baked rice and fruit (savo), Persian sweet rice (shirin polo), Ashkenazic barley with mushrooms (gersht un shveml), Persian carrot omelets (havij edjeh), Middle Eastern wheat berry pudding (ashure), and German fried dumplings with fruit (schnitzelkloese). Dried fruit strudels and kugels are a popular Ashkenazic treat. Turkish Jews enjoy prehito/moostrahana, a dish of sweetened cracked wheat, or kofyas, a dish of sweetened wheat berries, called assurei or koliva by the Greeks. Syrians serve fruit and nut pastries such as ma’amoul (nut pastries) and ras ib adjweh (date pastries).
As always his encyclopedic knowledge shows right through. On the same page he also gives us some of the recipes he mentions and I felt this one was the most à propos, as it reminds us of the ARIZa”L‘s custom:
Israeli Wine and Fruit Soup
(6 to 8 servings)
If you prefer whole fruit, add the oranges to cooled soup.
- 4 cups dry red or rose wine (or 2½ cups fruity dry white or rose wine and 1½ cups dry red wine)
- 2 pints fresh or 40 ounces frozen raspberries or cherries
- 44 ounces canned mandarin oranges
- 1½ cups orange juice or water
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
- 2 (3-inch) sticks cinnamon (optional)
Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.
To Thicken Soup with Cornstarch: Omit tapioca. Dissolve 2 tablespoons cornstarch in ½ cup water; stir into boiling soup; and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until clear.
For the rest of Gil’s superb recipes you’ll just have to his blog.
Have a Tu B’Shvat same’ach, gentle reader!