This Rosh Hashanah salad is a new take on old flavors

No tomatoes, peppers, corn or potatoes for this salad, as these foods arrived in the Middle East after Christopher Columbus and his conte...


No tomatoes, peppers, corn or potatoes for this salad, as these foods arrived in the Middle East after Christopher Columbus and his contemporaries introduced them, bringing them from the New World to the Old. And despite the apples dipped in honey on so many festive tables, the fruit, which originated in Kazakhstan, was not a biblical species. Although the Bible mentions the generic Hebrew word for fruit, “peri,” to denote the forbidden in the Garden of Eden, it was not until the Jews settled in Europe that they adapted the apple, a fruit more easily accessible than dates. and pomegranates, for blessing.

To this day, as part of a Rosh Hashanah meal, many Middle Eastern Jews and Sephardi say blessings on fall foods to symbolize hope for the New Year. This salad therefore has the flavors of autumn: pomegranates, olives, figs and beets. Ancient beets were valued for their greenery, not for their vibrant root, which is much larger today; in this salad I use both. Biblical herbs like mint, thyme, hyssop and parsley enhance the salad and a saltier brined goat cheese or sheep’s cheese like feta contrasts with the sweetness of the autumn fruits.

According to Jon Greenberg, ethnobotanist, “etrog” (the Farsi and Hebrew word for lemon) can also be used, as this biblical citrus, with its thick pith and little juice, is at the heart of the fall festival of Sukkot. Although Dr. Greenberg said that etrog in the ancient world was juicier than it is today, I opt instead for lemon juice for the tangy dressing. Related to the etrog, the lemon also arrived in the Middle East a long time ago from as far away as Southeast Asia. And rather than bee honey, I choose date syrup, the most common Old Testament “honey”, to add a little sweetness to the lemon.

While most of our foods reflect over 3,000 years of adaptation to changing tastes, standards of living and access to ingredients, this salad is a wonderful reminder of what once was and still is. all our party tables. “And, if you like sesame, bananas, soybeans, and turmeric in your salad,” Professor Cline said, “we now have archaeological evidence as of 1100 BC.”

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