These delicious nuts that are so adaptable, enriching sweet and savoury dishes, hold a story about a fascinating, complicated ideology. You will never look at a walnut in the same way again.
Kabbalists think that there are four worlds or states of God’s creation. They comprise of azilut — emanation; beriah — creation; yetzirah — actual formation; and assiyah — action, our world of material realism.
It is Friday night, and guests are coming for dinner. You do not know them well but you would like to impress them. Chopped liver, lockshen soup and roast chicken suddenly seem a tad old fashioned — and yet you hesitate to deviate from the norm in case your guests are actually looking forward to a traditional menu on Shabbat.
Although we think of supplements as a modern innovation, Hippocrates is said to have cured night blindness with raw liver soaked in honey, while 3,500 years ago, King Amenophis IV ate liver to help his night vision. Now supplementation is huge business and the western world spends hundreds of millions on vitamins and minerals yearly.
We constantly seek to improve our health and arguments rage as to whether supplementation is necessary. Some firmly believe that eating a balanced diet will provide adequate nutrients for good heath and that taking vitamins is a shortcut to health.
It’s that time of year when it is freezing outside and we crave comfort food. But most feel-good nosh seems to be fried, loaded with rich, creamy sauces or saturated with sugar. It is a proven fact that as the temperature drops we try to add extra sustenance to keep ourselves warm.
So how can one enjoy luscious food without adding on the pounds? There are simple tips that can help us to stay on course.
This Friday night is Seder night. But don’t panic, you do not have to clear your house of chametz before nightfall. It's Tu B’shvat, and one of the main traditions of this festival is to bring spirituality to the dining table in the form of a seder focused on new fruits.
What is fascinating about the humble pickle, seen on every Jewish table whether as a simple accompaniment to a burger, a family roast-chicken dinner, part of a grand Kiddush or a simchah meal, is that its origins reach as far back as 2030 BCE in Mesopotamia where archaeologists discovered pickled cucumber seeds.
They had been carried to the valley of the Tigris by Indian travellers. The pickle is mentioned twice in the Bible, in Isaiah 1:8 and Numbers 11:5; and ever since then, we have saved our glut of foods and pickled for leaner times.
Surely there is nothing more glorious than sitting by an open fire roasting chestnuts, or enjoying a cone of piping hot chestnuts. And chestnuts have more than a food significance for Jewish people. For during the time that Anne Frank was incarcerated in her hiding place, she looked out on a chestnut tree and often mentioned it in her writing.
On February 23, 1944, she said, “From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree on whose branches little raindrops shine…”
The phone rang. I had been invited to appear in the Hairy Bikers’ new programme, Mothers Know Best, and did I have children who cooked, the researcher wanted to know. Of course I did, and so, armed with our favourite dishes, the whole family travelled, as instructed, to a venue situated on the highest, windiest, coldest hill in the Cotswolds. The Highland cattle occupying the field had been moved to an adjacent pasture but the vast cow-pats that remained were a source of constant anxiety and laughter to the gathering guests.