Hamantashen - the most widespread food on Purim is a special
pastry, popularly known as Hamantashen. This is a triangular
piece of dough, usually filled with sweetened poppy seeds. The
origin of the name is unclear and there are various theories.
Some people say that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that
is why the pocket of dough is triangular. Others refer to the
midrash that relates that when Haman entered the King's
treasury, he was bent over, covered with shame, and humiliated
(literally with clipped ears). Hamantashen also means that
Haman's force was exhausted ("tash coho") when he came
to harm the Jews, and it is inferred that this will be fate of
all those who try to do us harm.
The source of the pastry was apparently poppy seed pockets
called "Mantashen". The name was intentionally
distorted to "Haman tash" - pockets of Haman. It is a
mitzvah to devour Haman with open mouth. Besides Hamantashen,
biscuits made of sugar and sweet starch are also widespread on
Kreplach - mince meat covered with dough, also triangular in
shape. The reason for eating kreplach on Purim is implied in two
ways, based on initials.
- KRP - Kippur, Hoshana Rabba, Purim - these are the
holidays on which we eat Kreplach, and they are connected
with beating and striking (on the eve of Yom Kippur - 39
lashes that the penitents apply to themselves; Hoshana Rabba
- striking the Arevot; Purim - striking Haman during the
- Based on the verse in the book of Deuteronomy (13:16):
"Hakeh takeh et yoshvei ha-ir" (you will surely
smite the inhabitants of that city"), and of course in
relation to beating and striking:
HAKEH TAKEH - Hoshana Rabba, Kippur, Haman - "Tochlu
Kreplach Harbeh" (You will eat a lot of Kreplach!!!)
Purim Challah - A special, very large challah with raisins is
baked for the Purim meal. Cakes are also baked, that have been
kneaded with oil and butter, smeared with egg yolk and decorated
with chocolate and sweets.
Purim fish - fish are not prepared on Purim in the same way
as for the other festivals. They are usually cooked in vinegar,
raisins and spices.
Seeds - several ancient sources make mention of the custom of
eating seeds on the eve of Purim in memory of Esther who ate
only seeds in the King's palace. This is also the source of the
custom of filling the Hamantashen with poppy seeds.
Beans and cereals. In many places people ate beans and cereal
on Purim, in memory of the piety of Esther, who ate no forbidden
foods in Achashverosh's palace but only cereals. There may also
be a reference here to affliction and mourning, which are
symbolized by cereals and beans.
Turkey - it is customary to eat turkey ("tarnegol hodu")
on Purim, in memory of Achashverosh who reigned from India
("Hodu") to Ethiopia. It is well-known that the turkey
was considered a symbol of foolishness in the European nations,
and among the Jews in general, and there is a reference to
Achashverosh's foolishness here.