Two days of Rosh Hashanah, two nights of eating tsimmes. As Jewish as any food this side of kugel, tsimmes is far more likely to glow in the dark. Described by Uriel Weinreich as a “vegetable/fruit stew,” the tsimmes comes in nearly as many varieties as there are fruits and vegetables to stew. There is the plum tsimmes, the raisin-tsimmes, the apple-tsimmes and the pear-tsimmes. There are tsimmesn to make kids’ hair stand on end: parsnip, garbanzo, green bean and farfl. Although I’ve never seen one, there is nothing to stop an adventurous or sadistic cook from preparing a lima bean or turnip tsimmes or even, God help us, a rutabaga stew. A lychee-tsimmes might even taste good. But the classic tsimmes, the tsimmes of record, is the carrot tsimmes. As the almost inevitable side-dish at every Rosh Hashana dinner, the carrot-tsimmes is familiar even to those who don’t eat it on Friday nights: peeled baby carrots; thick, sweet, orange-colored goop; and, in what must surely be a North American innovation, canned pineapple chunks, can after can of pineapple chunks, to assure us of a sweet and happy year and make us yearn to move our exile to Hawaii. There are generations already with us for whom canned pineapple–Del Monte, Dole, or the ultra-kosher Festive–is a quintessentially Jewish food. May they live to lead us into an age of mangos.
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