Tu B’Shevat, is marked in the Jewish calendar as a celebration of the sign of the early saplings and the beginning of the Spring. Known as the New Year for Trees, this festival is traditionally known as the festival of nature and marked by the planting of young trees across Israel and the involvement in ecological projects up and down the country. Tu B’Shevat is thought to be an agricultural festival with strong biblical roots and as with most Jewish festivals, religious or non, food plays an integral part. It is the fruits and grains native to the land of milk and honey that are significant on Tu B’Shevat and therefore it is customary to eat pomegranates, dates, figs, grapes, barley, wheat and olives, known as the 7 species from the book of Deuteronomy. Despite the heavy rains in Israel today, young trees are being planted and beautiful seasonal produce are being eaten, for today is Tu’B’Shevat and spring is in the air…..
Tu Ba’av, celebrated on 15th Av, is both a traditional and modern celebration of love. In the time of the second temple, this day was a day of ‘matchmaking’ for unmarried women and today in Israel is it the ‘day of love’ likening itself to Valentine’s Day in England. Foods that we most associate with love are rich and unctuous, namely chocolate, honey and figs and there are many ways of serving these aphrodisiac’s on a plate, to show that food can be attractive to the eye and to the palate. The red and pink hearts are out in force in Israel today and menus in restaurants will reflect the mood of love, so whether it is a romantic meal, coffee and chocolate cake or just flowers and delicious chocolates…tantalise the taste buds with the food of love….