Thanksgivvukah is a once-in-an-eternity overlap of Thanksgiving and the start of Chanukah. The reason for this year’s rare alignment has to do with quirks of the Gregorian and the Jewish calendar, one following the sun and one following the moon.
The two holidays would have overlapped in 1861, but Thanksgiving was not formally established by President Abraham Lincoln until 1863. Given the Jewish calendar, Chanukah will again fall on Thursday, November 27, in the year 79,811.
The holiday intersection seems appropriate. Chanukah is the most underrated holiday, not only for Jews but for Christians. The holiday, come to be known as “minor,” reminds us of an occasion that could have changed the face of our civilization.
If the Greeks invading Israel had overcome the Jews, it would have meant an end to the temple and to the Jewish religion. The Christian religion would not exist either. After all, Jesus Christ lived long after this battle. It would have meant a change in civilization as we know it.
Thanksgiving, our traditional national holiday which encompasses all faiths, also marks a universal change in civilization because America was the first country to embrace people from all over the world, along with their unique traditions.
I love the idea of this year’s Thanksgivvukah so much I created a special menu combining American and Jewish traditions. I was born in Tunisia and raised in Paris and bring the food of each country to America.
Autumn vegetables represent Thanksgiving and the sharing of harvest abundance. For autumn harvest dishes, I start with a salad of mixed greens with persimmon, pomegranate, and candied pecans drizzled with a maple balsamic dressing. The soup is a savory butternut squash with toasted pumpkin seeds. Later in the meal, I also bake acorn squash for added richness, and fill it with vegan tempeh and mushroom fricassee.
To add a bit of French elegance to the fried turkey, I serve it with a sherry and wild mushrooms gravy. Just as juicy, and in keeping with the Jewish tradition, I am also making a braised brisket with merlot and prunes.
Fried also means latkes, and this year my daughter Sophie and I created a special schmaltz-fried potato parsnip latke. For an Indian twist, just add our pareve curry-lime yogurt. Sephardic-style latkes add spice to the usual eastern European type that start with shredded white potato. Our version of potato latkes adds carrots for sweetness. We also do sweet potato latkes with spiced maple syrup and butternut squash latkes with apple cranberry ginger. A cook just has to use a little imagination and their favorite flavors as a base for this fried treat.
Got Kosher? Café and Catering Thanksgivvukah Menu 2013
Savory Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Mixed Greens with Persimmon, Pomegranate & Candied Pecans
Maple Balsamic Dressing
Choice of Entrée
Deep Fried Turkey with Sherry & Wild Mushrooms Gravy
Braised Brisket with Merlot & Prunes
Salmon over French Lentils with Herbed Mustard Sauce
Baked Acorn Squash filled with Tempeh & Mushroom Fricassee (V)
Organic Country Apple Chicken Sausage Stuffing
Schmaltz-Fried Potato Parsnip Latkes
French Green Beans with Hazelnut & Orange
Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Oranges, Almonds & Dates
Signature Got Kosher? Pretzel Dinner Rolls
Sufganiot with choice of Vanilla with Marshmallows Drizzle,
or Cinnamon Apple Pie
or Raspberry with Nutella Cover (pareve)
or Spiced Pumpkin & Rum Raisin Pretzel Challah Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise