Bakery: Ariel’s Bakery
Price: 29.90 NIS per kilo (approximately $10)
Growing up, Purim was the fun holiday that everyone looked forward to as a break from the monotony of Sunday school; instead of regular classes, my temple puts on an annual Purim party that involves carnival-like games, everyone dressing up, lots of noisemakers, and of course, good food. As a kid, it was great. But once I finished Hebrew school, the big celebration of Purim, which normally falls on a weekday, got lost in the everyday tasks of the real world.
This year, Purim begins at sundown on March 7th (today!), and I am excited to experience Purim in all its glory here in Israel. Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people by Queen Esther, who saves the Jews of the town of Shushan by revealing to her husband King Ahasuerus the plot of Haman, the king’s prime minister, to kill all the Jews. Once Esther tells the king that she herself is Jewish and that her people are in danger, Ahasuerus orders that Haman be hung instead. In Israel, Purim is a national holiday and celebrating it is a big deal. Think Halloween on steroids. Throughout the country, Purim is celebrated with readings of the megillah (the story of Purim) during the day and with huge costume parties and lots of drinking (it’s actually a commandment to get drunk on Purim) that last all night. But no holiday, especially a Jewish holiday, is complete without a traditional dish! Even though my family in the US doesn’t participate in the typical shenanigans of Purim, we always celebrate by eating the cookie traditionally eaten on this holiday: hamentaschen.
Literally meaning “Haman’s ear”, hamenstaschen are triangular shaped cookies with a sweet filling in the middle that we eat in celebration of the downfall of the evil Haman. Hamentaschen come in a variety of flavors, among which chocolate, raspberry, apricot, and prune are favorites in the United States. At Ariel’s Bakery here in Haifa, you can also buy strawberry, poppy, nut and fig filled hamentaschen. At this bakery, a kilo of hamentaschen costs 29.90 shekles, which is roughly 10 American dollars. However, a kilo of hamentaschen is quite a lot, so it’s more likely to buy a few at a time. Therefore, 4 to 5 hamentaschen will cost around 10 shekles, depending on how big your hamentaschen are! Purim wouldn’t be complete without eating some hamentaschen, and at the price found at Ariel’s Bakery this Purim is sure to be one of the sweetest!
Hag Purim Sameach!
Sarah McAnaw is a junior at American University where she studies International Relations and Biology. After cooking (and eating!) her way through a semester in Florence, Italy last fall, she’s in Haifa, Israel this spring to study the Arab-Israeli conflict and experience the culinary flavors of the Middle East first hand.