The foods we prepare and eat at Rosh Hashanah evoke in most of us memories long hidden away, perhaps of family celebrations, grandmothers bustling about preparing for the holidays or our mothers’ kitchens emitting the aromas that filled our homes and hearts.
As each generation changes, as the very definition of family has changed and as the way we shop for food changes, we find ourselves keeping some of our old food traditions alive, albeit in perhaps a different way.
The farmers market is an excellent choice for preparing a seasonal and farm-fresh Rosh Hashanah dinner that celebrates the changing seasons and highlights the new crops in store. At its grandest in the fall and laden with late summer and early fall harvests of fruits and vegetables, local varieties of honey and, often in many urban farmers markets, freshly baked challah, the farmers market offers plenty of inspiration for your holiday meal.
Ardent farmers market shoppers probably appreciate the changing colors and flavors of the variety and the spirit of joy with which food is prepared. It is exactly this spirit that can transform your traditional holiday meal into something seasonal and a bit more creative.
If the farmers market was not on your radar screen for holiday cooking, it should be, as the new year is a perfect time to try your hand at a new dish, perhaps a carrot soup made of a variety of colorful carrots or a great salad of arugula and fall Asian pears, perfect for Rosh Hashanah.
When serving apples and honey, let your guests taste from a variety of local apples, differing in color and texture, and ask them to share their thoughts on each.
Instead of a traditional tzimmes dish, try the many varieties of small red and purple potatoes, which are plentiful this time of year at the markets. Toss them with olive oil, fresh garlic and fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano or rosemary, and roast in a hot oven. Ten minutes before they are done, halve some fresh figs, drizzle with honey and add to the potatoes.
Best of all, by shopping at the market you have reduced the carbon footprint of transporting foods across country and helped a small family farm in exchange for the best-tasting, most nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in town. Sounds like a great way to start a new year, if you ask me.