It’s long been the tradition during SUkkot to set up a booth, invite guests and treat them to various family recipes. While they say there is no traditional Sukkot dish, it does seem to be characteristic to make things which are stuffed and rolled, like the Torah scroll. Stuffed cabbage and filled pancakes are popular.
Ashkenazi cooking expert Jeffrey Yoskowitz visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the first day of Sukkot and made select dishes from the Litvak culinary legacy. Guests–loves of Litvak cooking–joined in and for every dish there were multiple stories and recollections from childhood. There was even a dispute on the correct form cut carrots should take.
Jeffrey Yoskowitz is leading a Taube Jewish Heritage Tours tour currently in Lithuania. He and Dovilė from the Bagel Shop Café had a long discussion on which dishes to include in cooking workshops. In the end they arrived at the solution of Litvak exceptionalism: to select the dishes which Polish Jews don’t make and which are unknown to the American Jewish community.
So what did we cook for the Litvak guests on the first day of Sukkot? Baked herring with compote. It is a rare but delicious dish, made as gefilte fish is, but with herring. The secret is the vinegar, raisin and onion marinade which after cooling glazes the baked pieces. We also served shvemlakh, a milk mushroom soup. It’s made with chanterelles, one of the local mushrooms which keeps well.
The culmination of the evening was the pflaumen tzimmes: beef on the bone, plums, potatoes, caramelized sugar slow-cooked for 6 hours.