In her last posts, Jen­nifer Traig reor­ga­nized her library and looked at the changes from her past year. She has been guest-blog­ging all week for MJL and JBC.

I’ve been an obser­vant Jew for the last twen­ty-five years, and I’d like to think it’s out of piety, but real­ly, it’s for the food. With a few notable excep­tions (gefilte fish, I’m talk­ing to you), Judaism guar­an­tees a good meal. The wise-ass sum­ma­ry of all Jew­ish hol­i­days is pret­ty much right: they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.

So it goes with­out say­ing that I rank hol­i­days sole­ly by their tra­di­tion­al food offer­ings. Shavuot, of course, is num­ber one, because you’re more or less com­mand­ed to eat cheese­cake. Hanukkah means eight days of dough­nuts, which makes it also num­ber one. Yom Kip­pur is num­ber sev­en hun­dred and twelve.

As for Rosh Hashanah, well, it’s not to be tak­en light­ly. Rosh Hashanah foods are sym­bol­ic; what you eat is sup­posed to set the tone for the year. This is both good (apples and hon­ey) and bad (fish heads).

Then there’s the menu the Tal­mud pre­scribes: At the begin­ning of each year, each per­son should accus­tom him­self to eat gourds, fenu­greek, leeks, beets and dates.” We’re not sup­posed to eat them because they’re deli­cious (because they aren’t. Gourds?). It’s not how they taste, but how they sound. The names of these par­tic­u­lar foods sound like the things we’re pray­ing for this time of year: that our mer­its increase, that our ene­mies be vanquished.

In oth­er words, we’re eat­ing puns. Which was also the idea behind every Rosh Hashanah din­ner I host­ed in my twen­ties, each pun worse than the last. First came Rosh Mex­i­cana, then Rosh Ital­iana (we ate rosh lasagna). Then Rus­sia Shana (pirosh­ki). From there it was all down­hill, with themes like Rosh HaShande (guilty plea­sures) and Rosh HaSha­nia, a coun­try-west­ern menu in hon­or of Sha­nia Twain.

This year, because my daugh­ter doesn’t have teeth, it may well be Mush Hashana.

If I were a dif­fer­ent per­son entire­ly, my menus would be com­ing from Hip Kosher, Ron­nie Fein’s stun­ning, styl­ish cook­book of per­fect­ly deli­cious foods. I want to eat every­thing in there. The recipes are clear and don’t look dif­fi­cult at all. But I am a per­son who for­gets to add fun­da­men­tal ingre­di­ents, who mis­takes the sug­ar for salt. I should not be trust­ed to do things like friz­zle leeks or sauté bal­sam­ic-glazed pears.

I wish I were that per­son, but all the teshu­vah in the world isn’t going to turn me into one just yet. So instead, I’ll be rely­ing on the recipes of anoth­er Jew­ish chef: Ken­ny Shopsin’s Eat Me. Because I don’t think I can screw up his Mac­a­roni and Cheese Pan­cakes. They sound like heav­en, and if that sets the tone for my year, that’ll be a very good thing.

Jen­nifer Traig is the author, most recent­ly, of Well Enough Alone: A Cul­tur­al His­to­ry of My Hypochon­dria, as well as Dev­il in the Details: Scenes from an Obses­sive Girl­hood, and Judaik­itsch: Tchotchkes, Schmattes and Nosh­erei, and the edi­tor of The Autobiographer’s Hand­book: The 826 Nation­al Guide to Writ­ing Your Mem­oir. She lives in Ann Arbor.