When I did my previous post on charoset, I mentioned that it recalls the mortar with which the Jewish slaves in Egypt put bricks together. It completely slipped my mind that the recipe for this wonderful, sweet, aromatic fruit-and-nutty pesto may have been inspired by the Song of Songs, a biblical book of love, often taken as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel. The Song, also important for Muslims and Christians, is also interpreted to symbolize the relationship between church and man, or husband and wife.
Anyway, after reading this post by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, I was tickled and very keen to make more charoset, among other things.
The good rabbi believes these (non-continuous) excerpts from the Song of Songs make up a recipe for charoset:
Feed me with apples and with raisin-cakes
Your kisses are sweeter than wine
The scent of your breath is like apricots
Your cheeks are a bed of spices
The fig tree has ripened
Then I went down to the walnut grove
You have to admit, even disjointed, the Song is hot!
On my way to making more of this food o’ love, here’s a recipe, and accompanying tale, of a Southern version, handed down by journalist and writer Susan Katz Miller’s grandmother (check out the well-preserved handwritten note). This exotic recipe includes oranges and banana (much like Persian and Iranian charosets), and will be one of a couple at our own Seder.
If you have charoset stories and recipes to share, please do! Also if you have a grandma or grandpa (I’m a sucker for grandparents in general) who would love to tell me a story about food and family traditions.
For the charoset above, I bunged into my mini processor about 6 chopped dates, half a grated Fuji apple, 2 tablespoons each of orange juice and kosher wine, the zest of two oranges, a tablespoon of chopped, preserved orange peel, a few tablespoons of pine nuts and a tablespoon of almond slices, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 of mixed spice. It was so delicious there was no need to sweeten further with brown sugar, although you may if you wish.