Citizens, tonight starts the major Jewish holiday of Passover or Pesach – and no Passover meal is complete without Charoset!
Charoset is a sweet paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its color and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt as mentioned in Tractate Pesahim (page 116a) of the Talmud. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres — חרס — “clay”.
Charoset is one of the symbolic foods on the Passover Seder Plate. After reciting the blessings, and eating a matzah “Hillel sandwich” combining charoset and maror (bitter herbs), the remainder is often eaten plain, spread on matzah.
Charoset is mentioned in the Mishna in connection with the items placed on the Passover table: “unleavened bread and lettuce and charoset.” Some say it can be traced back to the custom of symposia in ancient Greece, where philosophical discussions were accompanied by drinking large quantities of wine and consuming foods dipped into mixtures of pounded nuts and spices.
This actually makes a lot of sense as the Greek and Roman custom of leaning or reclining to the left while dining was also adopted to remind Seder participants that Jews were now free citizens of the Empire.
My version of the recipe is Ashkenazi in origin, or eastern European. There are other versions of the recipe that are Sephardic (middle eastern) that incorporate fruits and nuts endemic of that region.
Ashkenazi Charoset is usually walnuts, apples, hideously sweet kosher wine and cinnamon. I’ve (of course) made this a more gourmet version with 2 different kinds of nuts and apples, while incorporating a hint of Sephardic spices and a more balanced sweetness from Port wine that I know you will love, my Citizens!
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