In memory of Eliyahu z"l ben Avraham on the occasion of his 18th yartzeit.
Why do Jews eat dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat?
Beats the hell out of me.
Actually, that's not entirely true. The drying of food if an ancient way of preserving food, along with salting and picking. Dried figs, raisins, and other foods are mentioned throughout the Tana"kh (Bible).
But, where did this concept of eating dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat come from?
Well, rabbis from Europe wanted to eat, or felt it was important to eat, fruit from Eretz Yisrael on Tu b'Shevat. Before refrigeration, and current systems of transportation, dried fruit was the best bet for obtaining edible fruit from such a distance.
Now, the above is a theory presented to me by a friend from Shiloh, who chooses to remain anonymous at this point. If you have another theory, please share it.
You are certainly welcome to eat dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat. The point is to remember that if you eat...
Dried figs from Turkey
Dates from Jordan
Olives from Greece
Olive Oil from Spain
Wine from France
...then you are defeating the purpose of eating fruit from Eretz Yisra'el,...because you aren't.