|My Hamantaschen with prune filling and poppy seed filling. Other popular fillings include chocolate, jam, and more.|
Purim, which is today March 12, celebrates the rescue of the Jews of Persia by the intervention of Queen Esther, who had married the King, as told in the Biblical Book of Esther. The evil adviser to the king, Steve Bannon, oops I mean Haman, had convinced King Ahasuerus to declare that all the Jews would be hanged. The King somehow didn't know that Esther was Jewish -- so she's always considered to be the first ever secret Jew. When she told him that an evil man wanted to kill her, he decreed that the man himself would hang -- and so the authorities strung up Haman.
For centuries, the celebration of Purim (which became a holiday many centuries after the possibly mythical events in the fifth century before the current era) included a variety of pastries, because the Book of Esther says to send gifts of foods to friends or others. American Jews today traditionally make Hamantaschen, which are three-cornered filled cookies based on recipes from German Jews a couple of centuries ago. More skillful bakers accomplish a more uniform result than mine, depicted above, but that's the kind of baker I am.
In addition to giving gifts of food, the celebration of Purim includes drinking until you are drunk (which the Book of Esther says you should do), dressing up in crazy costumes (which the Israelis really go overboard with), and reading the Book of Esther aloud. I'm not doing any of these this year.
|Baking: I used the recipe in The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. I made my own prune filling,|
but used a can of poppy seed filling. The prune ones came out better.
Published this week: "Claudia Roden Tells Her Immigrant Story" by Mayukh Sen -- a fantastic interview with descriptions of Roden's best cookbooks. Don't miss it.