Purim 2017: The Celebration And The Food

Happy and joyous Purim 2017!

The joyful festival of Purim celebrates the salvation of Jews in Persia from an evil plot hatched by Haman, whose hat with three corners is symbolized in the holiday treat hamantaschen. Haman had the ear of King Ahasuerus and tried to convince the king “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” Haman was thwarted, in large part by the work of Queen Esther, and for that, the holiday of Purim is celebrated with a carnival-like festival.

Somewhat similar to the celebrations of Mardi Gras and Carnivale, Purim includes all members of the family with carnivals, costumes, and, of course, great food, reports the Inquisitr. Although the traditional costumes for Purim are the characters in the Purim story, it is now common to see children dressed as superheroes and Disney princesses, similar to Halloween costumes.

Purim is a celebration of a thwarted attempt by the evil Prime Minister Haman to eradicate the Jews of Persia. There are some important things to know about the Jewish holiday of Purim. A big part of the holiday is the reading of the Megillah, which contains the Book of Esther (the Book of Esther is the only story in the Bible named for a woman). The story is read aloud, and it is interactive. Anytime the name “Haman” is mentioned, the crowd can boo, hiss, or make a ruckus with a type of rattle known as a grogger.


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Queen Esther is the hero of the Purim story, as she worked with her Uncle Mordecai to get a message to her husband, King Ahasuerus, who turned the plot on the evil Haman. In the end, Haman and his sons were hanged on the gallows that Haman built to kill Queen Esther’s Uncle Mordecai. One of the symbols of Purim is a type of cookie/pastry called hamantaschen, which are shaped like Haman’s three-cornered hat. Traditional fillings are poppyseed (mun), apricot, and prune, but now anything goes, including chocolate chips or pie filling.

But Tablet Magazine discovered that hamantaschen didn’t make it to American until 1889, so they asked, before hamantaschen, what did American Jews bake in celebration of Purim? The answer is Queen Esther’s toast. Queen Esther’s toast is also known as Purim Fritters, which are made from the inside of a stale loaf of bread and loaded with sweet flavors such as honey, sugar syrup, and cinnamon. The fritters are then decorated with sprinkles.

A modern twist on this can be a baked French toast with bananas and caramel syrup, and it can be served for Purim dinner.

Recipe for Queen Esther’s Toast

But chef Josh Bernstein says that hamantaschen doesn’t need to be served as a dessert anymore, as the dough is perfect for savory fillings too. He suggests reducing the sugar in the dough and, perhaps instead, adding herbs or other savory flavors. Some of the ideas for fillings include smoked eggplant and chicken pot pie filling.

These can be served large as a meal or smaller as appetizers for your Purim celebration.

Have you celebrated Purim? What are your ideas to make Purim 2017 special?

[Featured Image by Matthew Mead/AP Images]