The Tu b’Shevat seder, a fiesta of fruit, calls us to eat our way through a food experience that probes into the core (so to speak) of who we are.
Like so many wonderful Jewish food rituals where ingredients carry symbolic significance, it is as if the simple act of eating them unlocks potential for transformation and connects us to something deeply meaningful.
On Passover, it’s the dry, the crunchy and the bitter that tell us a story of slavery. On Purim, it’s sweet filled triangles that connect us to a story of being saved by the skin of our teeth. On Chanukah, oily foods remind us of the time it takes to rebuild.
And on Tu b’Shevat, the pit, skin and seeds of fruit trees are likened to personality types, and in reflecting on each fruit tree type, it’s as though we are placing a mirror in front of ourselves and observing how we relate to the community and environment around us.
Rooted in agriculture, Tu b’Shevat has evolved over time to include many traditions, and like all Jewish holidays, we add in our personal touch each year. And so this year, a suggestion to “toast” the holiday…with toast.
Toast has been trending for quite some time (for example, avocado toast), and understandably so. It’s portable, a light meal or snack on the go, and with a really good slice of bread, it’s simplicity at its finest.
But on Tu b’Shevat, toast also offers up humility. It carries its toppings on its back and allows them to shine through. And with tree plants we really want to taste with our spiritual appetites, perhaps toast is the vehicle to experience just that.
These toast suggestions have personalities and sentiments, and are a nod to the classic Passover Hillel sandwich. Choose your own toppings, perhaps based on what you would like your food meditation to be this year.
Milk and Honey Toast: Spread goat cheese on hearty multigrain bread, drizzle with honey and top with toasted pine nuts and chopped dates.
Cherry Bim Bom Toast: Slick almond butter on bread of your choice, drizzle with maple syrup and garnish with maraschino cherries.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy Toast: Lay mango and avocado slices on a piece of toast, sprinkle with toasted coconut, chopped cashews and crushed banana chips.
Yes, We Can Toast: Spread a slice of toasted challah with goat cheese, top with roasted canned peach slices and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.