The mitzvah of Mishloach Manot – providing gift baskets to your friends and loved ones - is among the enjoyable mitzvoth Judaism has to offer, and a great excuse to show off your inner baker.
Demonstrating the great Jewish sense of humor, many of the dishes that are served in Purim have to do with Haman’s body parts and organs.
Moroccan Jews have the Ojos De Haman, a challah baked around hard boiled eggs (or haminados - overnight boiled eggs), that symbolize Haman’s eyes.
Then there is the Greek or Turkish Folares, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in strips of sweet dough, which represent Haman’s feet (or, according to another version, Haman in prison).
And there’s the Italian Orecchie Di Amman, Haman’s ears that are sweet fried spiral shape pastries.
Coincidentally or not, the Italian Orecchie di Amman are very similar to other Sephardi sweets that are served during Purim, but are known under other names: The Iraqi Zingulah, the Yemeni Zalabia, the Sephardi Fijuela. All are deep fried dough that is dusted with sugar or drizzled with honey or sweet syrup. All are staples of Hanukkah as well.
In Israel, Oznei Haman (Haman’s ears) really refer to hamantaschen. Hamantaschen actually look nothing like ears, and were originally supposed to represent Haman’s pocket or his hat.
But who cares? Hamantaschen were always my favorite sweets. Maybe it was the fact that you had to wait a whole year to have them. But more than anything it was thanks to the homemade poppy seed filling that was always popular in Israel, where I grew up. The homemade poppy seed filling has nothing to do with the horrible store bought version, and I encourage you to prepare poppy seed hamantaschen at home yourselves.
B'Teavon and Happy Purim!
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