October 2, 2014

Food and beer pairing for Rosh Hashana: Beer and prakas (What's that?)

One of the delicious dishes that my wife Trudy makes for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year, celebrated this year on September 24-26) is stuffed cabbage, which she also calls prakas.

Prakas: Only in Philly and Baltimore.
Now, the interesting thing is that the only Jews who call stuffed cabbage prakas are those from Philadelphia, PA or Baltimore, MD, where Trudy grew up.  We learned this only a few days ago.  Trudy has gone through life thinking how strange that all these other Jews in the world don't know what prakas are!  Now we know why.

Anyway, since we keep a vegetarian kitchen, Trudy makes her prakas without meat, although they do maintain their famous sweet-and-sour taste.  The stuffing contains rice, spices, ground soya and a little tomato sauce.  The all-important gravy is made from tomato sauce, lemons (that's the sour), onions, and raisins and brown sugar (that's the sweet).

Since I was asked by the Desert Hops International Beer Festival in Las Vegas to write about a beer and food pairing just before Rosh Hashana, it made complete sense to me to find a beer to go with our holiday stuffed cabbage.  
Stuffed cabbage, spinach and tzimmes,
along with Baron's American Rye Ale.

(Photo taken after Rosh Hashana.)
I chose American Rye Ale from Baron's Brewery in Hod Hasharon.  The beer is brewed with malted rye and Centennial hops.  Flaked rye is also added to enhance the flavor.  The result is a full-bodied beer with citrus aromas and taste of rye sourdough bread.

Baron's American Rye Ale.
This went very well with our sweet-and-sour stuffed cabbage.  The sour taste and spicyness of the beer blended with the sour lemon in the gravy and actually intensified the sweetness of the raisins and brown sugar.

As for the rye flavor, well, think of sopping up the tomato gravy with a chunk of Jewish rye bread.  The dryness of the beer -- almost an astringency -- was also a fine contrast to the rich flavors of the cabbage and tomato.

In short, it was a delicious meal bringing together a taste of the Old Country, where a stuffed cabbage is still a praka, and a beer from Israel, our adopted old-new land.


  1. Enjoyed your blog about Beer and "prakas". Can you can tell us the etymology of this Philadelphia term "prakas"? Please tell us more about this Hod HaSharon Brewery.
    Shannah tova, and Have a good and joyful holiday.

    1. For those still interested in running down the origin of the word "prakas," we have found what is probably the definitive article on the subject. Please see here:

  2. Mel, we are working on the prakas connection. It's still shrouded in mystery, but I was able to ascertain that stuffed cabbage or vine leaves in Greek is yaprakya, so prakas can be a distortion of this word. The question remains, why would the Jews of Philadelphia and Baltimore call stuffed cabbage by a Greek name?

    Concerning Baron's Brewery in Hod Hasharon, I wrote a little about them in my previous post on the BEERS 2014 Exhibit in Tel Aviv. They make interesting and innovative beers. If you're curious, you and any other reader can contact Lior Degabli, one of the partners, at: liordegabli@gmail.com

  3. Doug and beer fans, do you agree with me? me-ander: Shandy Tasting Please read, comment and share, thanks.


Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!