Two gorgeous specimen from Max & Benny’s in Northbrook, Il
Today is Purim, literally the sweetest of the Jewish holidays. To those who don’t know, it’s basically a celebration of an averted Holocaust when the Jews were living in the Persian empire during the Babylonian exile, around 6 BCE. The short story is that the Persian King Ahasuerus / Xerxes (yes, the villain from “300″ all painted in gold) had an advisor called Haman, who didn’t like a guy called Mordechai, who was a Jew. And like all good anti-Semities, his best solution was to plot the death of all Jews, and get the king to support it. But Mordechai, who was the palace guard, had a secret weapon: a stunning Jewess called Esther, who he’d adopted as an orphan. The king falls in love with Esther, and like all good Jewish women, she gives him sound advice in his business affairs, averting a genocide, resulting in Haman’s hanging, and the salvation of the Jews…Amen.
Fast forward two millennium and it’s basically a Hebraic halloween where everyone is commanded to get drunk, dance, make noise, and eat triangle shaped pastries shaped like Haman’s hat. Sure, the kids in religious school learn the story, but for the rest of us it’s just one big cookie filled party in a religion not exactly known for crazy parties (at least in the Reform/Conservative diaspora branch). For me, it all comes down to the Hamantashen, the dense cookies filled with a variety of sweet fillings, most commonly prune, apricot, or my favorite…poppy seed.
Once upon a time you could only get Hamantashen around Purim, but they’re so popular many delis carry them year round. Certainly that’s the case at Canter’s in Los Angeles, or at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, two of the best deli/bakeries out there. I love the mini, bite sized ones, but I’m also partial to the big fellows. I’ll probably go out and buy some at lunch from Harbord Bakery in Toronto.
A rack of Hamantaschen from Junior’s in Los Angeles.
Anyway, here’s some recipe links:
*Also, I want to include a correction from my post about the Refuge the other day. As several of you have pointed out, including SF.Eater
, that the Refuge is in San Carlos, not San Francisco. San Carlos is about 25 miles south of San Fran, near Palo Alto, Stanford, and a whole lot of silicon based riches. So no, it’s not technically in San Fran, though it ain’t exactly in Chicago either. Anyway, if you do live in the Bay Area, head over and check it out.