Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths, celebrates the autumn harvest; a similarity to the Thanksgiving holiday observed in the United States which is not coincidental. Prior to making their way to the New World, the Pilgrims, themselves the victims of religious persecution, spent several years among Sephardic Jews in Holland. When they later celebrated the legendary first Thanksgiving, their conscious frame of reference was Sukkot.
Any dish incorporating the harvest of one’s own region is appropriate for Sukkot, but particularly those which feature a number of ingredients within, like stuffed vegetables, fruits, and main-dish pies -- miniature cornucopia symbolizing the plenty with which we have been blessed and for which we hope throughout the coming new year. This concept is seen in the Ashkenazic tradition of serving kreplach or stuffed cabbage during this holiday and the Sephardic tradition of serving couscous, with its accompanying variety of vegetables and toppings. In cooler climates, baked casseroles or hearty one-pot meals are especially favored, since it is convenient to ferry them to the sukkah, the temporary hut constructed to symbolize the wanderings in the desert by the Children of Israel and in which as many meals as possible are eaten during the eight-day holiday (one week in Israel). According to the Talmud, the table should be decorated with pomegranates, themselves a symbol of plenty, and flasks of wine.
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