April 03, 2012

More Passover prep

I continue to find some energy each day to prepare for Passover but I have nowhere near the kind of energy it actually takes to do everything. So I am limiting m cleaning to the fridge, oven and pantry and we'll use our regular dishes, pots etc. this year.

(For those who don't know, the scourge of breadcrumbs in any form is the hallmark of Passover preparation. Those who follow the zero tolerance policy against bread, pasta, etc. use special pots and pans and dishes that have never held any of those food items. It's complicated -- for more, look here.)

We are hosting seder for ten friends. Because I plan to use our regular kitchen supplies, everyone can bring part of the meal. Here's our menu:

During the seder, I like to serve crudités (cut up raw vegetables) and guacamole, ajvar - roasted red pepper puree - or even salad dressing). It staves off the hunger pangs because it's a long time until we eat dinner!

 The traditional foods we eat during the seder include matzah (unleavened bread), horseradish, a roasted egg, charoset (Ashkenazi apple-nut-wine and Sephardic made with dried fruit and spices), a roasted lamb shank (or a beet, for the vegetarians), bitter lettuce (like the beet greens), and spring greens like parsley. And we drink four cups of wine or grape juice during the evening.

The meal:
Chicken soup with knaydlach (matzah balls)
Chopped liver (my dad's recipe)
Gefilte fish with more horseradish
Hard boiled eggs
Chicken Marbella (a good choice since it makes a sauce and therefore can't dry out while staying warm)
Roasted tomatoes with matzah meal topping (this delicious recipe comes from my sister)
Roasted asparagus

Chocolate carrot cake
Apple cake (another family recipe)
Coffee and tea

You can see there's a lot of cooking, so it's helpful when friends bring stuff!

On top of all the cleaning and cooking, there's also spiritual preparation for the seder ritual. I like to make room for something new every year. This time I have invited friends to dress up as characters from the Exodus (Moses, Miriam with her tambourine, Pharaoh, the midwives Shifra and Puah). We could take a tip from the SingAlong Sound of Music, and dress as a wine glass or piece of matzah (i.e., those who dressed as "brown paper packages tied up with string"). A little lightheartedness goes a long way in this celebration. 

I learned once that Passover is the oldest celebrated human ritual, continuous since ancient times. The Haggadah tells us to recall that in every generation each person is to imagine that it was he or she who left Egypt. To make a personal, individual connection to a communal experience of slavery and redemption challenges us each Passover. That may be why the seder experience has been around for so many thousands of years.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Chicken Marbella, what a revelation. You made four people 3,000 miles away very happy tonight. Enjoy your Pesach!