By Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox
We grew up in Barcelona, Spain. Not exactly your typical Jewish upbringing, and while we loved the beautiful city, it could be difficult and isolating during the Jewish holidays. Nevertheless, we managed to form a tight-knit group each year with our aunt, uncle and cousins who enjoyed the festive Syrian-Lebanese style food our talented mother prepared for us.
The main meal itself was amazing, but it was the symbolic foods we ate before the main meal that were our favorites. Our mom would make zucchini and spinach frittatas, cold leek soup and we would enjoy sweet dates, apples with sugar, pomegranates with rose water and the head of a fish or lamb, a tradition for Sephardic families.
The Syrian Lebanese cooking we grew up eating didn’t usually include sweet flavors in savory dishes during the year. But for Rosh Hashanah our mom would make an exception with her delicious sweet carrot and raisin rice. It was always a big hit and we brought the recipe with us when we moved to the U.S.
This year our parents will join us for the holidays and so we decided to change things up a little and make our mom a surprise rice dish. The first night of Rosh Hashanah we will make her traditional carrot and raisin rice. And the second night, we will serve this new sweet fragrant rice that includes some of our mom’s favorite spices and dried fruit. We think she will be proud of keeping the old traditions, and making some new ones as well.