10 April 2009


We have a pretty extensive list of foods to make every Passover for the seder. This year Ezra also threw in a roasted zucchini and summer squash dish, but normally we only make homemade applesauce, marinated mushrooms (Moosewood Cookbook), chocolate almond macaroons (Cook's Illustrated), sponge cake (Great-Aunt Janet), strawberry sauce, gefilte fish (Great-Grandmother Dora?), brisket (don't know), matzoh balls (Mrs. Manischewitz), potato kugel (Mrs. Manishchewitz), tzimmes or an equivalent sweet dish (different every year), homemade chicken soup (Mom), roasted chicken, steamed asparagus, fruit plate, raw vegetable plate, sliced kosher pickles, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and charoset.

Charoset (kha-ro-set) is always made at the very last minute in a wooden bowl with a special round chopper. Because the chopper isn't dangerous for children to use, Ezra and I have always been the ones tasked with producing it. Charoset has four ingredients: Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine, walnuts, red apple, and cinnamon. No amounts given. You just chop it all up until it's well mixed and all the pieces are very small. Charoset is meant to represent the delicious, delicious mortar used by the enslaved Jews in creating the store cities of Pithom and Raamses. Some people grind everything up so much that it turns grey and goopy like real mortar, but our family thinks the result too unappetizing.

At the seder we eat the mortar with matzah (bread of affliction), and maror, or bitter herbs (grated horseradish). Tasty! Everyone loves this part. People have maror-eating contests. Once George ate so much maror that he hallucinated in black and white. Last night I'm pretty sure the maror dynamited me a third nostril. When has remembering oppression ever been so fun?

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