Sukkot, which begins at sundown tomorrow (October 12th) is very much like Thanksgiving. Both holidays celebrate the harvest and there’s a feast of good food to eat.
The difference is that on Sukkot, according to Rabbinic tradition, you’re supposed to eat all your meals in a sukkah (a “hut” or “booth”), outside. Which is probably the way the colonial Pilgrims ate their Thanksgiving dinner, now that I think of it.
A lot of Jewish families build sukkahs. Of course you have to have a backyard or some sort of property. Or a fire escape. Or some place where you can build a makeshift hut, even if it is just a “representation” of a real sukkah. If you belong to a synagogue you can go to a communal sukkah of course.
In any event, I don’t know anyone who actually eats all their meals outside in a hut. I know maybe one or two who build a sort of sukkah and they have dessert out there on the first night of the holiday. My family never built one when I was a kid. The closest I ever got to eating in a sukkah was when my cousin Leslie and I hung a bedspread over a card table, crawled inside and ate potato chips.
To tell the truth, my husband and I didn’t build one for our kids either. They visited the one at their Sunday school.
But Sukkot food is really good no matter where you eat it. Because it follows the season and the harvest, like all good food. Sukkot food features end-of-summer and beginning-of-autumn fruits and vegetables: apples, pears, squash, pumpkin, eggplant and stuff like that.
Sukkot foods are also usually easily transportable too — for those people who will be carrying the food out to the hut.
Here’s a seasonal dessert that’s yummy, easy and you can take anywhere:
Pear and Ginger Crisp
6 ripe pears
juice of half lemon
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core and slice the pears into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, 1/3 cup brown sugar, flour and salt. Toss the ingredients and place in a baking dish. Make the crust: Combine the 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter in chunks and work into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Scatter over the pears. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving (or serve at room temperature). Makes 6-8 servings