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The story behind Purim has the same basic narrative as many other Jewish holidays: they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat! At Purim, you eat triangular cookies called hamantaschen, meant to represent the hat worn by the villainous Haman. (Just go with this story, OK?) These are stuffed with some sort of filling, traditionally poppy seeds or jam, though I personally prefer chocolate or salted caramel. Traditionally, you also wash them down with vast quantities of alcohol, which helps out a lot while performing the two other great Purim traditions: making a lot of noise to drown out the name of the villainous Haman and wearing a silly costume. It’s a great holiday.
This year, however, there’s a new spin on the hamantaschen tradition, thanks to Forrest, an employee of the kosher fish department at the Jewel at Evanston Center on Howard Street, aka Kosher Jewel. Over the past few years, Forrest has gotten in the habit of carving up salmon into different shapes in honor of the Jewish holidays. For Hanukkah, for instance, he makes salmon menorahs. Salmontaschen seemed like the next obvious choice.
“It’s fun,” he says. “Kids love it. Parents as well.”
The Salmontaschen are indeed stuffed, but only with a sprinkling of paprika. “I had other ideas in my head,” says Forrest, “but this was one of the quickest to throw up.” But he’s already got some ideas for next year.
(And why didn’t anyone ever come up with the idea of combining lox and hamantaschen before? This is genius! Savory also goes way better with the drunkenness mandate than sweet.)
Forrest runs his ideas past a rabbi so he doesn’t inadvertently break any dietary laws. It’s all kosher!
The Salmontaschen will be for sale only through the end of Purim, which is tonight. If you do make it out to Evanston, Forrest wants to remind you that there is a great salmon sale going on today: $5.99 a pound. And if you can’t, just wait another month and see what he’s got planned for Passover.