Through the years, carrots have been one of the most symbolic foods served at Rosh Hashanah, just behind apples and honey. In Eastern Europe, carrots are always part of tsimmes, a stew made with carrots and sweet potatoes—either alone or with meat. (The Yiddish word for carrot—mern—also means “to increase” or “to multiply.”) In Morocco, every Jewish home welcomes the New Year with a salad made from carrots cut into rounds; they resemble coins, a sign of plenty.
Eating bright-colored carrots at Rosh Hashanah is meant to symbolize the hope for plenty, including plenty of children, for the year to come.
Today, carrots, with their variety of colors—orange, yellow, white, even crimson—are still a wonderful symbol of that plenty when served during the New Year. Once upon a time, I simply boiled them and cut them into coins in my attempt to embrace their symbolic good fortune. Now I love to freshen up old recipes, like this Moroccan one (recipe here), and roast the carrots, then embellish them with avocado and pistachio nuts, add a touch of cumin, and of course slice them into coins for the New Year.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.