Saturday, April 8, 2006

Passover

While my family has strayed from it's conservative Jewish roots a bit (what with the marrying of Hindus and all), Passover remains our biggest holiday.   I have been with my family at Passover every single year of my life.  For the most part, that meant traveling to Pittsburgh where our seders were held first at my grandmother's house, then at my aunt's.  Each seder is a major event, lasting approximately 4 hours.  Think pressed tablecloths, polished silver, gleaming crystal and more food than you can shake the rod of Moses at.  During Passover, we commemorate the Jews escape from slavery in Egypt (they fled before there was time for their bread to rise) by taking all foods containing leavening out of our diet for a week.  But, being Jews, we can't just eliminate foods.  No, we must re-create them in ways that are kosher for Passover. If you have a grocery store with a Jewish section, go take a look:  Passover pasta, Passover cookies, Passover stuffing mix.  My cousin even makes "matzana" by layering matzah with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce. 

So, let's say that for breakfast you generally eat scrambled eggs and fruit.  During Passover, instead of continuing to eat that perfectly fine unleavened meal, you would replace it with: pancakes made from matzah meal, coffeecake made from matzah meal, and a nice crunchy slab of matzah slathered with butter and preserves.   See?  Isn't that better?  In the story of Passover, matzah is referred to as "the bread of affliction".  Let me assure you that if you eat too much of it, it soaks every bit of moisture from your digestive tract and you are afflicted with something only Matzahmucil can cure.

This past year, my mother moved from Pittsburgh to join us here in Oregon.  Now, she and all three of her children and their families reside on the West Coast.  As a result, we are having Passover here.  And when I say "here", I mean HERE.  At my house!  What the hell was I thinking?  I always thought I was making a sacrifice to uproot myself and travel to Pittsburgh for Passover, but now I see how good I had it.  All I had to was pack, show up, and maybe help set the table.  Voila!  Out of thin air, the Magical Passover Fairies conjured up a fabulous dinner. 

But this year, oh this year, I won't have to travel.  How convenient!  I just need to figure out how and what to feed 18 people for dinner.  I have to polish everything I own that is silver.  If I owned an ironing board, I might even have to iron tablecloths and napkins.  I have to shop and clean and cook and bake.  I have to get my house ready for houseguests AKA those ungrateful whores who just show up with their luggage and expect me to feed them. 

Luckily, I have my mother to help me.  We have had numerous "planning meetings", grocery runs, and cooking marathons.  We've managed to pace ourselves pretty well and I already have a freezer full of Passover desserts, matzah ball soup, and matzah meal pancakes.  But we're getting into crunch time.  My paralysis this morning over the workload cause me to  fall  into an old habit.  Obviously the time was right to rearrange the magnets and pictures on my refrigerator! 

On Monday, my mother and I are going to attempt to make gefilte fish. This involves ten pounds of real live dead fish.  Being chopped.  And rolled into balls,  And boiled.  God help us.  When searching for recipes, I found these helpful hints.  Those definitely brought back memories of my grandmother, may she rest in peace.  How I miss her this time of year.  Especially since she used to do all the damn cooking.

6 comments:

foilhat16 said...

OMG I'm crying at the helpful hints. You are absolutely certain you're not Catholic???  My grandma could have written that.  Are your really making your own gefilte fish?  Don't you dare put your mom on a bus with all those grungy Oregonians - yeah, I've heard about Nirvana and those types running rampant in your city - hugging trees and wearing flannel and stuff.  Craziness.  ;)  I love that you have been with your family for every Passover - very cool.  We're invited to one of the boys' friend's family Seder.  God help me if they don't reenact the escape of the Jews with Star Wars figures!  It's bizarre, but after 3 years, a tradition.  LOL  And the food is beyond awesome.  Andy loves it, because as the youngest,  he gets to wear the fancy velvet yamaka (sp?) embroidered with golf stuff.  

fariedst said...

man, I WANT TO COME.  Is an extra hindu allowed at the table???

jbear97 said...

OMG.. the helpful hints is just tooo funny.  I hope you can enjoy the holidays!!!

momdeplume said...

You forgot one thing.  There is the matzamucil (a brilliant invention) and then there are the stewed prunes which people think they eat for the sake of tradition.
Oh not so!  For the sake of extradition from the loo, perhaps.

hallcjm said...

You had me until the fish part; could you make that AT YOUR MOM'S. :)

Enjoy and KUDOS for keeping up the tradition.

mrszargarpur said...

Your Passover is making my Ramadan seem easy!