So tonight the 8 days of Passover begin. Jews all over the world will eschew “leavened” foods in favour of 8 days of wrangling with crisp bread, potato starch and almond meal. We commemorate Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, in a hurry. The unbaked bread cooked flat as they fled, hence the eating of matzo. Then there’s the whole “puffiness” thing – and the idea of over-inflated egos – we should be humble and not eat foods that expand and swell, like rice or even legumes.
I’ve written before of the simple perfection of chicken soup and kneidlach, designed for this occasion. For more on the subject of Pesach, my recipe and thoughts on this quintessential, but much varied Jewish dish:
Sephardi Jews, having lived in the East do not consider rice to fall into the category of leavened foods while Ashkenazi Jews (my lot) wont touch it at this time. Being Jewish is regional! To be clear the vast majority of Jews identify as Jews but don’t follow all of the complex and time consuming demands of Kashruth. For MUCH more on this try http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm
But most of us will perform a seder of one kind or another – it’s been a while since I last staged a seder as I usually celebrate with friends from simchafreo http://simchafreo.info/
After years of this we have it down pat, even having the kinds of squabbles and disagreements families do.
Naturally, I am the matzo ball queen, while Anne-Marie is the queen of the lamb tagine. She usually cooks one with prunes and one with quince. And we Ashkenazi Jews are always happy to to do the cross-cultural thing and include rice.
Zoe is hosting us this year – she of the baker’s hands. We will have a number of desserts including Wendy’s tasty macaroons (no flour!). I cannot wait for Zoe’s glorious chocolate hazelnut cake.
For those of us who happily inhabit the Diaspora, though Passover symbolically enunciates the yearning for Israel, it simply celebrates freedom and the hope for a better life for all. We all want this.