There's no such thing as a Jewish holiday without good food.
Passover comes with matzo ball soup (rich chicken broth studded with dumplings) and brisket (the most amazing pot roast ever). Sukkot, the harvest holiday, has kreplach, amazing meat-stuffed dumplings. And don't even get me started with Hanukkah, which comes with fried everything, most famously latkes (potato pancakes) but also sufganiyot, small jam-filled donuts. Even a holiday associated with fasting, Yom Kippur, is followed by a sumptuous break fast feast, often comprised of bagels, smoked salmon, and other brunch-like fare.
Naturally, the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, is no exception. The holiday — which begins at sundown on Sunday, September 25, and ends Tuesday, September 27 — comes with a mandate to welcome a sweet new year by consuming sweet foods.
Apples dipped in honey is the most traditional option, followed by pomegranates, which supposedly have the same amount of seeds as mandates in the Torah, the Jewish Bible (we're not counting).
At Rosh Hashanah, like so many holidays, people gather in large groups to commemorate the occasion.
"Food is so important in our culture and our tradition," says Karen Kriger Bogard, a rabbi at the Central Reform Congregation. "As it is in many others as well — it's not to say we're unique. It just plays such an important role in how we gather."
For Bogard, the food that says it's the holidays is her mother's brisket. As a kid, just smelling it cooking made her know it was the holidays. Now, as an adult, the holidays are sometimes still
about that brisket.
After all this is a busy stretch: "When you're a rabbi, you run out of time," Bogard says with a laugh. "So my mom is literally making a brisket and bringing it from Memphis so we have food to eat."
Reducing the holiday down to its food is, of course, reductive. But there's something inherently important and universal about celebrating together through food. That also makes it a great way to get something out of the holiday even if you aren't Jewish.
So, with that in mind, we've picked five ways for St. Louisans to get into the new year the easiest way: through their stomachs.
Seek out some fancy fruit
Remember the aforementioned pomegranates? Part of the reason they're consumed is to align with an instruction to eat "unfamiliar fruit." Pick up some truly wild specimens at St. Louis' bevy of top-notch international markets — Jay's International Food (3172 South Grand Boulevard)
or Global Foods Market (421 North Kirkwood Road)
, for example — or even head to your local Schnucks, which has been known to have a dragonfruit or prickly pear on occasion.
Order a holiday meal
There are a few spots in the city that offer a full holiday dinner ready to order. But it's a little last minute at this point, so head to Whole Foods
, which has full meals as well individual dishes and Kosher wine for order.
Nosh at a Jewish deli
St. Louis isn't known for our delis, sadly. That said, there's still a few top-notch offerings in town. If you're closer to the city, think about Protzel's (7608 Wydown Boulevard)
for some classic sandwiches, traditional sweets and a fridge of the most Jewish soda out there: Dr. Brown's. In the county, you'll find Kohn's Kosher Meat and Deli (10405 Old Olive Street Road)
, which has all of the above and plus a small market and a good amount of seating.
Bake a Midwestern Rosh Hashanah pizza
There's a lot of great holiday recipes out there, but the Midwest can lay claim to truly delectable one that bridges the gap between holiday grub and everyday deliciousness: Molly Yeh's apple and honey pizza
. Though Yeh is from a different Midwestern state less known for its pizza (Minnesota), somehow she still manages to turn out a truly great flavor combination — the chew of a great crust, the sharpness of cheddar, sweetness from apples, caramelized onions and, of course, honey. We can't recommend it enough.
Eat some apples and honey
The classic is a classic for a reason. It's the easiest way to low key celebrate and welcome a sweet year ahead. You can fancy it up by picking up a selection of apples and different honeys to have a kind of tasting — a favorite of Rabbi Bogard.
But regardless of if you go extravagant or simple: shana tova!
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