About five years ago, Joyce’s local supermarket, the Narberth Acme, reinvented itself with the addition of a “Kosher Marketplace” – three aisles of Israeli products, a kosher butcher and a deli – overseen by a mashgiach, who wears a sanitary hairnet over his beard and makes sure that the laws of kashrut are observed. Joyce finds the section useful for potato pancake mix, herring in a jar, and the occasional yahrzeit candle.
But the Narberth Acme pales in comparison to the ShopRite on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, NJ. A friend took Ellen to this Passover paradise last week, and she was mightily impressed. At the end of her shopping spree, her cash register receipt was 3-1/2 feet long. ShopRite had hundreds of unusual Passover products, including honey-flavored matzah, chocolate shaped like locusts (to pass around to your guests during the Ten Plagues), party trays of nuts and dried fruit to bring to your hostess (hint, hint…), and a boatload of foods manufactured in Israel, including spices, jams, honey and the Prigat brand of sodas and juices.
Seeing the great array of pesachdik (OK for Passover) foods got us a little bit excited for the dreaded annual week without bagels. We know deprivation is coming, but the fancy packaging gives us false hope that the pesachdik blueberry muffin mix won’t be so bad.
We Googled ShopRite and learned that the company was founded in New Jersey and is still based there. Many of the ShopRite brand products are kosher-certified because the five states served by the supermarket chain (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware) are home to more kosher consumers than any other region in the nation. ShopRite, you are a member of the tribe!
Passover shopping usually means perusing the two shelves in your regular supermarket with the same old same old brands of matzah and soup mix and the ubiquitous cans of macaroons. We remember the year that a new flavor of macaroon appeared. Ooh, Rocky Road. We anticipated breaking the seal on the can only to realize that they were the same chocolate chip macaroons – with a small shred of kosher for Passover marshmallow added in. Disappointment.
At ShopRite, Ellen couldn’t resist tossing the 99-cent bedikat hametz kit in the cart. It was a paper bag containing a wooden spoon, a candle, and a feather for the ceremony immediately before Passover in which family members conduct a ritual search of the house for hametz (those forbidden cookies or bread crumbs that you missed). It’s traditional to search by candlelight and to use a feather to brush away the crumbs.
It’s going to take more than a feather to clean up our homes. If you are observing Passover, and if you’re responsible for your kitchen, the holiday brings with it a lot of work. Just as the Jews slaved in ancient Egypt, we, too, slave cleaning out the cold cereal, sweeping out the pantry, and putting boxes of hametzdik (forbidden on Passover) food in the basement. If you keep a separate set of Passover dishes, utensils and pots and pans, you have to do even more shlepping to prepare for the weeklong holiday.
Despite our kvetching, we look forward to Passover, which starts this year on Friday night, April 6. To us it means family and food, specifically a big bowl of Manischewitz-drenched haroset (the apple, nuts and wine mixture that symbolizes bricks and mortar).
Joyce will again use the Main Line Preschool haggadah that her family loves; Ellen is embroiled in a dispute with her husband over whether or not to include Rabbi Gamliel in the homemade cut-and-paste haggadah she insists on using. Everyone has his or her favorite part of the seder: the song they love, the story they want to hear again.
Who in the family will be asking the Four Questions? It won’t be us, because we’re not the youngest, be we do intend to insert our own Four Questions into the ritual:
1. Can I squeeze one more folding chair along this side of the table?
2. Why is a box of Pesachdik brownie mix $5.79 when Duncan Hines is $2.29?
3. How did Moses answer the cries of his people when they were constipated from eating so much matzah?
4. Why do we gain weight on Passover when the food is so bad?
Wishing you a zissen Pesach.