Every year, I host a seder that can only be described as unorthodox in every sense of the term. The guests are usually folks who might not otherwise observe the holiday, and I’m happy to gather them into my home to pray, eat, sing, and think about what freedom means and what we ought to do to make more of it in the world.
I’m so happy to gather them that in the days leading up to seder, I start freaking out about what we’re running short of because I’ve invited so many guests. Thus comes the last minute run for cutlery, dishes, glassware . . . every year it’s something different. The panic, however, remains the same.
post dedicated to Ezra Marbach
When I think of March 17th I think of green. Not olive green, celadon, pine or lime — I’m talking clover. On St. Patrick’s Day in the US you can find things such as bagels, pastries, beer, and flowers dyed clover green in celebration of this day. It’s meant as a shout out to Irish American solidarity and pride much like the blue coloring used on cupcakes is for the celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. (I just had to bring up those blue cupcakes, regrettably they hold a special place in my culinary heart.) With all of these thoughts on green and blue I thought I’d explore the connection between food and color.
In Oliver Sacks’s novel An Anthropologist on Mars he includes a chapter called The Case of the Colorblind Painter. This chapter tells the story of an adult artist who became color blind as a result of an auto accident. One of the ailments that the man suffers from, as a result of the accident, is a repulsion toward many foods and eating. The book states, “He founds foods disgusting due to their grayish, dead appearance and had to close his eyes to eat.” The book goes on to say that closing his eyes and imagining the food’s proper color didn’t help enough and he began eating foods like rice and black olives that appeared more normal with his impaired color palette.
With all the jokes about Jews loving Chinese food, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a Jewish version of the Chinese zodiac calendar. Now, by inputting your year of birth, you can find out which Jewish deli food (lox, bagel, black & white cookie…you get the picture) that you are cosmically aligned with. Moreover, once you know your sign, you can (conveniently) purchase *stuff* with a picture of your sign on it.
A farmer, an educator and an activist, Michael Ableman is also a photographer and a writer. His three books include his latest, Fields of Plenty: A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it, for which Ableman traveled North America chronicling the passion and prowess of the new generation of American farmers. He currently farms in British Columbia with his wife and two sons, and will be joining us as a presenter at the Hazon Food Conference in December, 2008. (Click here to find out more and register for Hazon’s Food Conference.)
I talked to Ableman about his hopes for the sustainable agriculture movement, his many hats, and Judaism’s connection to the cycle of the seasons.
Find the full interview below the jump.
For many of us, apples and honey are an integral part of a Rosh HaShana celebration. But finding the right ‘apples and honey’ for your table is not always as simple as it sounds. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to dress up the tradition: from beautiful and funky honey pots, to a variety of honey options that go beyond the bear.
When it comes to honey pots, you can go with something traditional and very jew-y:
This Shavuot I baked, with the assistance of my son Max, a siete cieli (“Seven Heavens”) challah. It’s become a regular tradition in our family, along with cutting roizelekh (“roses”) from origami paper, to bake this Mt. Sinai-shaped round challah adorned with various symbols of Torah and revelation – the 2 tablets of the covenant, a ladder, a fish, a bird, and a hamsa.
Max made the fish that you can see in the picture. There’s an excellent, illustrated description of how to construct the “seven heavens” challah in the cookbook by Rabbi Robert Sternberg, The Sephardic Kitchen, though I don’t use his recipe for challah. Rather, I use my favorite whole wheat challah recipe from Marcy Goldman’s Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. By the way, this is a fantastic cookbook. I have yet to bake a recipe from it that I haven’t liked. The whole wheat challah recipe follows below the break. I have also adapted this Shavuot hallah to celebrate the end of the term with my Wheaton College First Year Seminar “Rituals of Dinner” students, adding other, more contemporary dough symbols, i.e., a mortarboard hat and diploma.
The incredibly talented visual artist, Mat Tonti, created a beautiful rendition of the controversial goat schecting at last year’s Hazon Food Conference for PresenTense Magazine. It captures the event, the mood, and the whole experience perfectly. Kudos, Mat – and thanks
View the full image here.
For more about the schecting, click here.
Save the date: This year’s Food Conference is happening December 25-28 on the Monterey Penninsula, Califorina. Registration opening SOON – check Hazon’s website for more details.
After two months working on the pig farm and a few weeks of recuperation, I’m back to the The Jew & The Carrot blogging world, while living, cooking, eating, composting and blogging in Tel Aviv. Good to be back.
There’s an incredible magazine that I’ve been meaning to post about. It’s called Meatpaper and as its cover states, it is “your journal of meat culture.” And it really is. Meatpaper is a beautiful graphic art print magazine that documents the recent fleischgeist. It features incredible pictures and photo essays in addition to interesting, bizarre, and funny interviews and articles. Some of the issues the magazine covers are similar to ones discussed here on The Jew & The Carrot (debates about the moral consumption of meat) and others are certainly not (the importance of eating bull penis, and whether or not one should eat their spouse if deserted on an island together.)
I’m pleased to announce the winners from our most recent raffles on The Jew & The Carrot (drum roll please….)
Sharon Lebewohl won a framed print of Karl Schatz’s gorgeous photo and Joshua Lichtman will receive a copy of Sandor Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation. Thanks to everyone who purchased a raffle ticket and left comments about their favorite fermented foods! The Jew & The Carrot will offer many more chances to win healthy and sustainable goodies in 2008 – check back soon!
No, it’s not a joke:
The Vegetable Orchestra performs music solely on instruments made of vegetables. Using carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, leek-zucchini-vibrators, cucumberophones and celery bongos, the orchestra creates its own extraordinary and vegetabile sound universe.
Does this give anyone else the sense of peace and hope for the world that it gave me?
There have been some very interesting issues raised about kashrut in recent months on The Jew & The Carrot, particularly regarding the compatibility of traditional kashrut with the ethical, ecological, gastronomical, and cultural sensibilities of many of our readers and and contributors. And of course, there are the reports about the the blatant abuses of some of the kosher meat processors. However, while the kosher dietary rules (which I personally observe) are an important source and means of expression for Jewish values about food, they are not the only ones. There are also many rituals connected with the table and the seasons that have also shaped how we think about and eat our food.
Reading books at the dinner table is something most of us Jews take for granted, based on our experiences of the haggadot scripting our Passover seders, Tu bishvat haggadot for Tu Bishvat seders, benchers for birkat ha-mazon and zemirot after Shabbat and holiday meals.
I recently heard an interview with Native artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun during which he made a comment about the nature of food. He asked “When a Haida is eating a hotdog When does the hotdog become Haida (referring to the first nations band)? When it’s in his hand? When it’s in his mouth? or after he’s had a bowel movement.” Yuxweluptun was using this image as a metaphor for many cultural dilemmas. I ended up stuck on the Koan-like statement for a while trying to grapple with what about the metaphor hit me. I think it stems from the possibility of thinking about it from a literal perspective and then approach food and culture differently. When does what we eat become who we are, if it even ever does.
Check out these great excerpts from a photo essay entitled, What the World Eats, from the book, Hungry Planet, by photographer (and fellow tribesman?) Peter Menzel.
And if you’re ever confused about what blessing to say when encountering a new food, you can use this new handy gadget, from The Jewish Learning Group!
Looking for the perfect gift for an eco-friendly, garden-obsessed (perhaps even going to Adamah?) graduate? Look no further! Food, gardening and dirt are *very* hot topics in the craft world these days. Many beautiful options, like the one below, await you at www.etsy.com (search keywords: “garden” “farm” and “food” for great gift options)
1. Beautiful Tomato Print (great for decorating dorm rooms!)
* A ramp is a wild onion (Allium triccocum), found in eastern North America. It has flat leaves, and rounded clusters of white flowers. It can be eaten raw, or used in cooking. It is in season right now in the Northeast. Ramps are also referred to as wild leek.