There is only one mandatory action on Purim, that is to hear the story of the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of their enemy, Haman. One might debate whether this was due to Esther’s sexual manipulation of the king at her uncle Mordecai’s urging or it was in fact due to divine intervention.
What is not in debate however is the ferocity of the Jewish observance of the event. Jewish custom is to get stinking drunk and yell, scream and stomp every time Haman’s name is read aloud and generally remind everyone that we hold grudges for a very long time.[Don’t believe me, the Jews are the only people to remember the tribe of Amelek- just so we can observe the commandment to blot out their memory. That’s more than 2000 years of holding a grudge because they tried to jump us in the desert.]
This extends into the foods consumed on Purim. Oznai Haman (Haman’s Ears) come in several forms, ranging from stuffed cookies to this interesting fried pasta recipe I found. Of all of the Purim foods I have seen these turned out to be the most life-like and perhaps raising the greatest number of questions for a liberal western Jew to answer as he presents a plate of these fried ears to his kids.
I invite you to offer your own thoughts on consuming something that looks so much like a body part, and remind you that between Haman and his 10 sons (who were all impaled on wood spikes) there would have been 22 ears, snacks for everyone.
Fried Haman’s Ears – Oznai Haman
Adapted from Claudia Roden
6 oz all purpose flour
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 tb whiskey or brandy
Combine all ingredients either with a stand mixer or food processor (you could also do it by hand) and mix until smooth. Dough should look a little dry and not be at all sticky to the touch. Divide dough into four portions and roll as thin as possible. I used a pasta machine and if you have one I recommend it.
Use a cookie cutter to cut half circle or crescent shapes from the dough. You can re-roll the scraps to get more “ears” from the batch. Heat vegetable oil 350F in a deep pot. Lower 3-5 ears at a time into the oil slowly, flipping them after they start to brown (about 30 seconds). After the back sides have some time in the heat move them to a rack to drain. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.