The Sukkoth

The Sukkoth (also known as Sukkot, Succot, among other variations) is a traditional Jewish autumnal festival that happens five days after the Yom Kippur. Its name can be translated as “Feast of Tabernacles” or “Feast of Booths”, as it honors the ancient practice of building huts (called sukkah) during the time of harvest to provide temporary shelter for the harvesters by building such huts during the days leading to the eight-day festival (or seven, in Israel).

It is a harvest festival, in much the same way Thanksgiving is, meaning there is a lot of food involved. The only food specific to the festival, however, is the kreplach: small dumpling with fillings such as mashed potatoes or ground meat. The dough is made with egg and flattened really thin, folded into a triangle with the filling already inside, then cooked in boiling water.

But, along with fish, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, food related to the time of harvest, you can find some other traditional Jewish food, such as:

  • Challah: braided bread. It can be made with eggs, without eggs, with whole flour, with honey, among other derivatives;
  • Kugel: similar to a casserole, it is made from egg noodles or potatoes, along with cottage cheese and milk, and can feature raisins, cinnamon, caramelized sugar, and black pepper, for a sweet kugel, and cabbage, carrots, matzah, cheese, and spinach for a savory kugel;
  • Chicken Matzo Ball Soup: a chicken soup with vegetables also featuring matzo balls, that is, balls made of matzo. Matzo is a type of unleavened flatbread common to Jewish cuisine, made essentially from just flour and water, but can have other additions such as egg, wine, fruit juice, garlic, among others;
  • Mujaderra: rice and lentils cooked together, topped with sautéed onions;
  • Gefilte Fish: carp, pike, whitefish, or other fish, is ground with eggs, and sometimes other ingredients (such as onion, bread, salt, spices, carrot and or potatoes), turning into a dough or paste through poaching, and is then cooked in fish stock. It can also be accompanied by egg, carrots, and may be found both in its usual savory version, as well as in a sweet variation.

The meals are traditionally eaten throughout the day inside a sukkah during the entirety of the festival. Like in Thanksgiving, the keyword is abundance: it is a time to celebrate good harvests and be thankful for living a good life. It is celebrated by Jewish families throughout the world, each serving different foods (and different variations of them) according to what is available to them, meaning that each region celebrates it in their own unique way. It is best perfect way to discover Jewish cuisine, as well as Jewish ingenuity.

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