A Jewish proverb teaches, "Worries go down better with soup," a sentiment worthy of heeding. Take time to break bread with family and friends and allow life's troubles to recede during the course of the meal. Many Jewish foods are associated with religious observance of the sabbath or major events around the Jewish calendar, such as Hanukkah, Passover and Rosh Hashana. But that isn't to say these foods can't be enjoyed at any time of year.
Challah, the traditional, braided bread, appears regularly on the sabbath table. A soft bread, sweetened with honey, challah incorporates plenty of eggs in the dough and is brushed with an egg wash before baking to give it a golden brown color. The baker may top the bread with poppy or sesame seeds or stir raisins into the dough.
Other common Jewish baked goods include the cinnamon or chocolate babka, a yeasted bread topped with streusel. The most familiar type of Jewish bread is the bagel, regularly topped with cream cheese, lox and other smoked meats and vegetables. Bagels come in a variety of flavors such as salt, onion, garlic and cinnamon raisin.
Matzo does not have yeast and is served during Passover as a dietary requirement to not eat leavened bread.
Gefilte fish is a patty or ball of finely ground whitefish or carp mixed with seasonings and simmered in broth until cooked through. Commonly served cold with a side sauce of horseradish, this dish starts many sabbath meals. Traditionally, the mixture of minced fish and seasonings is stuffed into a whole fish and cooked. The resulting dish is served in slices with the stuffing revealed in the middle.
Another popular Jewish fish is lox, a brined and delicately cold-smoked salmon served in very thin slices.
Sides and Snacks
Made with finely grated potato and flour, formed into small pancakes and fried in oil, latkes are typically served with applesauce and sour cream. Latkes are served at special family meals, particularly during Hanukkah by U.S. and European families.
The knish is a small roll stuffed with a dumpling of mashed potato and occasionally ground beef and baked or fried. This snack food is similar to the Spanish empanada or the Hungarian pierogi.
A dessert or side dish, kugel is a type of bread pudding typically flavored with raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cottage cheese, milk or sour cream create a smooth, creamy consistency to the casserole.
Another Jewish dessert is the sufganiyah, a doughnut-type ball filled with jelly or custard and served warm, frosted with powdered sugar. Sufganiyah is a typical Hanukkah treat.
- Photo Credit Bagel and Cream Cheese with Lox image by JJAVA from Fotolia.com
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