When I think of Tu BiShvat, I always remember the trip with my parents back to their childhood homes in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1992 and then again in 2001 my mother and father, my children and I, went back to Vásárosnamény, Hungary, hometown of the Weisz family, my mother’s, and Hluboka, Czechoslovakia, the home of Kirschenbaums, my father’s family. I remember seeing, for the first time, the fruit trees planted on their family’s land. I think about how crucial the seasons and the fruits that ripened in the different seasons were to their traditional cooking and recipes. Many of the recipes in my book, Food Family And Tradition make use of those fruits. One of my favorites, and also my father’s, were plums. Acres of plums grew on the Kirschenbaum land. These were used to make Plum Preserves, Lekvar, (recipe, page 259), as well as Rice with Prunes (recipe, page 220), in addition to eating out of hand. My father remembers when he was a boy making a meal on fresh plums with homemade bread and freshly churned butter.
Although dependence on trees, especially fruit-bearing trees, was a given in my parents’ day, it seems to me that today we place so much more emphasis on Tu BiShvat. And I think I have come to understand why, at least for myself: Tu BiShvat celebrates the New Year for Trees in Israel. And now that the modern state of Israel is flourishing and the trees and vegetation grow in abundance and beauty, the holiday has taken on added significance. We are reminded not to take for granted the blossoming trees. It has evolved into a national holiday, a day of joy, when we take a breath and realize that spring is “around the corner” and that the trees will be bearing fruit shortly. Like the words in a popular children’s song, “The almond tree is blossoming and the golden sun is shining….” Perhaps this is why it has become so popular to eat fruits that grow in Israel, such as almonds and other nuts, olives, dates, figs, pomegranate, to name a few.
Even for those of us living outside of Israel, the feeling is contagious! And so, every year I like to try a new recipe.
This year, in honor of Tu BiShvat, I am having a special yogurt parfait made with fresh and dried fruits, with almonds and topped with Silan, special date honey made in Israel. I am sharing my recipe with you below:
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Use your favorite yogurt. I prefer plain Yogurt, both the thicker Greek-style and the regular.
Makes: 1 serving
6 ounces yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh mango, diced
1 tablespoon fresh green apple, diced
1 dried fig, diced
2 dried dates, diced
2 teaspoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon Silan
Layer half the yogurt in the bottom of a parfait glass. Top with half of each of the fruit but not the almonds. Repeat then top with the almonds and drizzle the Silan on top.
Enjoy Tu BiShvat!