For this year, our Shabbat lunch will be a nod to the glorious variety of living creatures that Noah rounded up to fill his ark and preserve for eternity (well, sort of).
Almost exactly a year ago I challenged my Facebook friends to think of foods that have an animal name in them—chicken, lamb, and fish don’t count. I got a spectacular number of responses; so much of the credit for this menu goes to them as well. I will also state at the outset that this meal works for English speakers best, although surely it will spark creative speculation for speakers of other languages. (And isn’t that whole lost in translation idea part of this week’s parashah as well?
We will begin our meal with roasted elephant garlic to spread on challah and salmon mousse, with the emphasis on the “moose.” The course that follows will be “pigs in a blanket” and a variation on the classic “ants on a log” (we’ll use celery with chumus and olives rather than with peanut butter and raisins). The main dish will feature chicken with horse-radish aioli, porcupine meatballs, cow peas (a small legume), buck-wheat (a.k.a. kasha, but the English serves our purposes better), sautéed hen of the woods and king oyster mushrooms, and rat-atouille.
Dessert is where animal names abound, so I am still making a decision, but options include: monkey bread, bear claws, elephant ears, zebra cookies, dragon fruit, dragon eyes, gooseberries, and spices crab apples. Of course, somewhere in dessert I will have to make pears (read as pairs).
And now for the educational component: Not only will we laugh at the plastic animal figures running through the center of the table and the animal print napkins under each plate setting, but we will also infuse the meal with a bit more content. From a language perspective, we will try to name all the animals mentioned in the foods in Hebrew as well as in English. Then we will challenge the kids to decide how many of these animals would have been on Noah’s ark; in other words, are they pure animals or not pure animals? Would Noah have gathered seven of them or only two?
Have a wildly amazing Shabbat!