Earlier this week I was visiting some of my local supermarkets in Washington to draw inspiration for Hanukkah cooking. While Safeway, Giant and even Trader Joe’s offered a somewhat conservative Hanukkah fare, which included chocolate gelt, potato latkes mixes and dreidel shaped cookies, Whole Foods showed a little more creativity. A lovely sign pointed shoppers to shelves filled with a nice variety of matzoh (organic!) and kosher-for-Passover cake mixes. As my friend Karen said “Please don’t make me eat matzoh in December.” Really, haven’t Jewish people suffered enough?
Last year, the Washington Post’s All We Can Eat food blog wrote about another Washington area Whole Foods branch that offered matzoh for Hanukkah. They asked the Whole Foods managers to spare the half a minute it takes to google Hanukkah, and do it right. Well, someone has clearly done some thinking, because this year they added a few boxes of Hamantaschen to the Hanukkah display.
(They’re not alone, but the way. On Rosh Hashanah, my local Costco loaded a huge pile of Hamantaschen next to the jarred gefilte fish. They were probably wondering why it didn’t go as well as the little grayish fish balls.)
But there was something else that caught my eye while I was wandering through the isles of the various supermarkets. Roasted chestnuts were displayed in the kosher food areas of some of them, an ingredient that is not usually associated with kosher food, Hanukkah or not. The reason, I assume, is the new variety of kosher roasted chestnuts, distributed by companies like Gefen and Galil. Why should the chestnut belong only to Christmas? We celebrate Hanukkah every year while chestnuts are in season.
So I bought some chestnuts and cooked a fancy farro, wild mushroom and chestnut dressing, perfect for yet another glamorous, glitzy, Hanukkah party.