It’s Passover again! I was looking back over the blog and was surprised to see that I hadn’t posted much about Passover last year. I showed you our Passover Plate (here) and how I organized my menu and planning (here). But I didn’t talk much about the food! Strange.
Each year at Passover, I think about traditions. (I also think about the playwriting class I took as an undergrad. One of the students wrote a play called, “Passing Over.” It was a family drama about a son coming home for Passover, bringing his girlfriend. The mother was the main character and it was about her letting go. The scenes alternated between present time and the son’s childhood from the mother’s perspective. I thought it was incredibly well written and I loved the title. No idea what happened to this student or the play but I think of it every year. But anyway, traditions.)
Some of the traditions I think about are food-related (shocking), while others are family-related. Each Passover we make sure to have some non-Jews at the table. Each Passover I serve hard-boiled eggs after the service, before the soup (My grandmother always did). Each Passover we make certain to call our family in Israel. Each Passover we serve Mama’s Sponge Cake (Even though we tend not to eat it). For me, these large holidays are all about passing on traditions- using the same plates, cooking the same foods, telling the same stories- so that we can pass down a bit of our family through the generations.
It means that I can tell stories about my great-grandmother, even though I don’t remember her. It means that I make my matzo balls the same way my grandmother did and, by extension, so will my children. It’s a way of connecting us over time, through generations, across geographical borders. Which is true of food in general- when I make the tuna salad that my cousin in Israel makes, I’m bringing a bit of her to my table- but becomes more true when it’s a traditional food at a traditional holiday time.
Which is what Passover is all about for me. Traditions and connections. When we open the door for Elijah, I know that many families that live on my street, and the next street over and the next town over and the next state over and the next country over (well, you get the idea) are all doing the same thing. When we giggle and look for the afikoman, I know that other families are doing it at the same time we are. It’s a connection.
This year we’re celebrating Passover a day late in that we’re having our first seder on the second night. Some families do a seder on the first and second nights but we’ve always just done the one on the first night. This year, what with me going back to work this week and with two young kids, I decided to not aim for perfection but instead to relax and have dinner on the second night. It feels just slightly wrong but I’m mostly over that.
I spent some time today cooking and will the majority of the cooking tomorrow. When I can, I’ll have my daughter help me (she’s a good stir-er for a few minutes at a time) and this year, because it’s on a Saturday, my best friend from elementary school will be joining us and has offered to help cook. That is the other piece of the holiday for me- the friends. Standing side by side in the kitchen, chatting and cooking, is something I value. Some of my best conversations have happened that way.
At any rate, this year we’ll be having chicken and brisket. Holiday mashed potatoes, of course, and Chocolate Caramel Matzo. And no Passover meal is complete without matzo ball soup. Plus the seder plate. I’m trying a few new dishes as well- balsamic roasted veggies and apple matzo kugel.
Here’s the state of my fridge, the night before:
Hard boiled eggs are cooked and peeled (white bowl on bottom left); brisket is cooked and ready to be put back in the oven to be warmed (middle left). Veggies are waiting to be prepped (in two bottom drawers), and the chicken is waiting to be roasted (bottom left).
My daughter discovered the seder plate today. She is a bit obsessed with birthdays now and spent a good twenty minutes stacking, counting and arranging the smaller plates on the bigger one, while saying, “Happy to you….happy to G-”. I think she thought they were small cakes.
Hopefully I’ll remember photos tomorrow and will be able to post a bit more next week about the new dishes and the tried and true ones.
Chag Pesach Semach (happy passover holiday) and Happy Easter!