Ashure

Noah’s pudding or ashure is made by Muslim, Christian and Jewish people of Middle East in remebrance of the salvation of Noah and his family from the Biblical flood. Since they had spent many days and nights in the Ark it is not suprising that they faced starvation. Noah saved them gathering the remainings of legumes and grains and cooking them. That’s why the homonymous pudding is a mixture of nuts, dried fruits, legumes, wheat, sugar, etc. For Muslims ashure also commemorates several religious and historical facts, such as the deaths of Hassan and Hussain, grandsons of Prophet Muhammad.
Christians throughout the Middle East celebrate the baby’s first tooth preparing a similar dish which is called hedik or amah. Armenians call it anoushabour and they cook it on the last day of the year. Greeks know the dessert only as αzurès or assurè(s), or ahiourès, not as Noah’s pudding.

According to Greek Christians of Asia Minor assurè was made the night before Christmas as an offering to Mary in child – bed. Women charged with its preparation ought to be clean from menses and abstain from sex for one week. Jews prepare assurè probably because of its resemplance to the nuts and seeds of Tu B’ Shevat. Among the several sweets which are served by Greek Jews during this feast, assurè holds an important role.The custom of preparing assurè belongs to the ancient Meditteranean tradition of offering legumes and grains to the gods, asking or thanking them for the abundance of the crops. In Greek antiquity a mixture of boiled wheat and nuts was offered to Demeter, the deads and the Gods of underworld, especially Pluto, Persephone and Soul -guide Hermes. Wheat’s burial and sprouting was seen by ancient Greeks as a symbol of ressurection of nature.Christians incorporated the symbolism in ceremonies connected with the kollivo, which is an offering to the deads. Kollivo is a mixture of boiled wheat, nuts, raisins, chick-pea flour, raisins, sugar, pomegranate seeds, etc. Through pomegranate, which is an ancient symbol of death and life, connected with Persephone’s descent to underworld, Christians introduced the symbolism of eternal life.Greek refugees from Asia Minor brought the assurè in Northern and Central Greece. For Cretans the assurè became a dessert of the cities with no religious significance. Above all, as Nicholas Stavroulakis mention in the Cookbook of the Jews of Greece, p. 132, ‘The basic symbolism of life hidden in apparent death is common to Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the use of assurè. It is a dish associated with hope and rebirth.’

  ASSOURES

Take 1 oka (1282 gr) cleaned wheat, after washing it add enourgh water and bring to a boil over cinder, from evening until next morning.

Afterward bring to a boil over a good fire until wheat is overcooked, then strain it through a fine sieve.

Blanch 100 dr. (325 gr) almonds and clean 100 dr. (325 gr) washed rice, pound them in a mortar, add some wheat-liquid, mix, strain and boil.

Then sweeten with unfoamed honey until tasty, add pine nuts and almonds and boil until the mixture thickens.

Pour rose water and raisins and boil them seperataly so the asoures will be black.

end of 19th cent., Vlastos archive, v. 25, p.33-34. Hist. Archive of Crete.

1. The festival of Tu B’ Shevat or Las Froutas to the Sephardic Jews, is of ancient origin. It marks the end of winter and is associated with the blessing of seeds. After the destruction or the Temple of Solomon, the festival lost its significance, until was restored by the Safed and invested with high symbolism among the Sephardims. Winter symbolizes the Israel’s long expectation for the Messiah, and the seeds, with the life hidden in them, symbolizes the soul. Thus, Tu B’ Shevat became a celebration of hope. The custom of the three blessings- one over the wheat, another over the fruits of trees and vine, the third over the fruits of earth- is still seen in most Greek Jews communities. N. Stavroulakis, Cookbook of the Jews of Greece, p. 131-132, Lycabettus Press, Athens 2000.

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