This year, it was a very good Passover. So no kvetching…. just some reflections:
1) Collectively, we had 33 seder guests – who ate 80 matzah balls, 47 pieces of gefilte fish attractively topped with a little carrot garnish and served on a piece of red-leaf lettuce to make it look nice, chicken breasts with farfel stuffing, lemon salmon, brisket, noodle kugel, potato kugel, Joan Nathan’s sweet kugel and grilled asparagus to pretend we were having a healthy meal with green vegetables.
For dessert? Cheese cake, chocolate mousse cake, Jewish apple cake, homemade macaroons, chocolate leaf cookies, and fruit salad.
We were both hosting lots of people and were worried that we wouldn’t have enough food. After all, if you serve two main dishes, how do you know who will choose salmon and who will choose turkey? And what about Uncle Sid, who you know will eat a “just a little of both.” That’s why, at the store counter, we and every other customer said, “Better give me another pound of that . . . “
2) You know you live in a Jewish neighborhood when the liquor store is sold out of all variations of Manischewitz a week ahead of time – except for one giant bottle of Extra Heavy Malaga. We don’t finish the little bottle of Concord Grape, so what would we do with 28 additional ounces of even sweeter wine?
3) People often complain that a week of eating matzah “stops up their pipes.” Guess the manufacturers heard their cries, because this year we saw high-fiber matzah on the supermarket shelves. High-fiber matzah is an oxymoron. Might as well buy the jumbo shrimp.
4) We both made our family’s favorite haroset – the Ashkenazic version with chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and sweet wine. Ellen also made a Sephardic recipe (without nuts because an allergic neighbor was coming to her seder). She chopped up dates, apricots, figs and raisins. Dumped some sweet wine into the dried fruit, and put it in Tupperware to marinate in the frig. A day before Passover, the Sephardic haroset looked dry, so Ellen dumped in more wine, only to realize later that the dried fruit had absorbed it all and plumped up. The Sephardic haroset was a super-saturated alcoholic mess
5) In an effort to perk up their seder, Ellen and David cooked up a “Jewpardy” game. “I’ll take Passover Food for $400, Alex.” They wrote questions for their guests in four categories: Passover Food, Seder Plate, People, and Before & After. In the latter category, two responses are combined to form the correct answer. For example, “He wrote Blowing in the Wind and A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” (Answer: Bob Dylan Thomas). Their post-mortem? Judging by the audience response (and the tweets!) Jewpardy was pretty successful. You can try a few of the questions. The answers are at the bottom of the column:
1. People: This star of the Passover story is only mentioned once in a traditional haggadah.
2. Seder Foods: Name two important seder foods that are not on the seder plate.
3. Before & After: This injury to your leg muscle would be fine on the seder plate.
6) Joyce and Ted visited their son, Ben, in Colorado during Passover week and ate lunch in the University of Colorado cafeteria. Alongside the baskets of white bread and wheat bread was a basket labeled “matzah bread.” Joyce took a piece. (79 cents for a square of matzah!) When the cashier rang it up, he said, “Matza bread. It’s been so popular around here this week.” This surprised him. He had no idea that God had commanded us to eat the bread of affliction.
7) We try to keep our pesachdik leftovers to a minimum, but how can we help it? Joyce looked at her remaining boxes of matzah and decided to store them in the pantry, where she will be surprised to rediscover them and then discard them in March 2013. Ellen knew she overbought (see previous post about the ShopRite in Cherry Hill) but took only two bad cake mixes, two jars of gefilte fish and a box of cake meal to the JCC Food Bank. Her matzah went directly into the trash.
8) The Word Mavens learned a new Hebrew word this year: mimouna. It is a party held at the end of Passover when Jews go back to eating hametz – pizza and bagels. The tradition comes from the Moroccan Jewish community; mufleta, a thin pancake shmeared with butter and honey, is commonly served. Today mimouna is celebrated in Israel and the United States, too. In New York, DJ Louie hosted a big bash at a Lower East Side club. Guests were invited to “dance, celebrate and have some hametz.” We like the idea of mimouna: It’s another reason to party and eat sweets!
2. Matzah, wine, salt water
3. Charley horse radish