Purim is a holiday of sweetness and joy, a time when Jews reflect on the power of an individual and the victory of the Jewish nation in the face of destruction. One of the exciting elements of Purim is the obligatory giving of gifts of food to friends and family. Jews are commanded to give at least two foods to at least one person, and they must be ready-to-eat food items. Mordecai, one of the Purim heroes, instituted the practice of mishloach manot.
For the record: In the Feb. 25 Food section, an article about the Jewish festival of Purim was accompanied by a list of tips for celebrating the holiday that inadvertently included material previously published by Chana Lewis.
TIPS FOR MISHLOACH MANOT
Collect any plastic berry or wood produce baskets, boxes, decorative bottles, ribbons and bows you have around the house. Or buy biodegradable plates or gift plates from secondhand stores.
Fill a brown paper bag with a bottle of wine, a loaf of good homemade bread and aged cheese, and attach a dish towel or wooden salad servers to the outside with raffia.
Place a plate of goodies in the middle of an open linen or terry kitchen towel, gather up the edges and twist. Fasten with raffia or twine.
When giving gifts to multiple people, mini-muffins, mini-cakes, squares and small cookies are cost-effective to make and save time and energy.
Place breakfast items such as a small box of cereal, a small container of milk or chocolate milk, a piece of fruit, string cheese and juice in a paper bag. You can include a plastic spoon or bowl to make this edible on the spot.
For lunch, a small can of tuna, baby carrots, a bagel and a beverage can be put into a paper bag. This is always a hit for its practicality and homey connotation.
A great gift can be a challah (homemade lends an extra boost), hummus or tahini, and a bottle of wine.
A bag of specialty gourmet coffee, a package of kosher butter cookies and a piece of chocolate in a ceramic mug are the perfect gifts for someone who can't get by without their daily cuppa.
A selection of truffles, chocolate and a tin of real cocoa or brownies are sure to score points with a chocolate lover.
Whole wheat cookies or hamantaschen, a small jar of honey, a tofu snack bar or a bag of dried fruit are a good choice for health-conscious friends.
In Israel, a popular gift is Israeli salad (cucumbers and tomato cut into small pieces), hummus or tahini, falafel and pita.
In a small metal pail, place a bottle of milk (small or large) and fill the rest of the pail with chocolate chip cookies.
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