Most Jewish communities have traditional dishes specifically prepared for the Rosh Hashanah Seder, each symbolizing a blessing for the New Year. Chef Ayelet Latovitch tells the story of her family, who emigrated from Persia to Israel, and gives her personal interpretation to the traditional festive dishes.
“Of all the holiday dishes on our table- a family that made sure to celebrate each and every holiday- we always eagerly anticipated the beans on Rosh Hashanah. I have a sharp and clear memory from when I was a child. My eyes were fixed on the clear drizzle of honey that glazed the red-brown beans that lay on the plate. I won’t even try to explain the incredible texture and the dance of flavors, because these can only be experienced when felt and tasted. And in the background, I was in love with uncle Motti’s tune. He always sat at the head of the table and read the blessing “May it be that our merits will multiply and that…”, but in the Siddur written over here there is no mention of blessing for the beans.
The order of the specific blessings on the Hoshmand family table, ie, my family, immigrated with them from Iran (known as Persia at the time). I later discovered that the various Jewish communities have blessings similar in nature, but slightly different in form. I must admit, and confess, that this revelation made me feel more connected to our Rosh Hashanah Seder, and since there is no house large enough to accommodate us all, we have turned it into a multi-generational family vacation that stays true to tradition. This holiday is the most beautiful memorial to my grandmother, Khurshid, who cooked countless holiday meals for us.
Khurshid Hanum was born into a wealthy family in the city of Mashhad, Persia. Her father called her a “princess” and promised her that when she grew up and got married she would have a new dress for each day of the week. When he died, the family hurriedly married her off to an older man who came from the poorer suburbs of the affluent city. The Hoshmand family may have been poorer in wealth, but rich in joy and liveliness. It was this marriage that saved my life. Not only because of the genetic sequence that later enabled my existence, but also because of how my grandmother illuminated my life through her greatest superpower – her ability to be content in whatever hand she was dealt.
I love ceremonies. I love holidays. I love to find their true essence, their initial intention, as well as to renew and revive the traditions on which I was raised. After all, behind every fixed tradition there was once a great and important intent. The same goes for the food I serve on the holiday table; Some of the dishes are faithful to the Hoshmand family’s Rosh Hashanah Seder traditions, just as they were back in the city of Mashhad, others have been tweaked to the approval of the family tribe (even though Grandma Khurshid did not get to taste them), and the rest are a combination of the past with the present. The result is a culinary pathway for both the body and soul.”