Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Instant Seder for Two

On the first night of Passover, Elise and I found ourselves wanting to celebrate but stuck without anywhere to go. Guess our se-dar was broken.

So we hastily constructed our own Passover meal and it ended up being my favorite ever. Quick update for those who don't know: Passover is the holiday commemorating the Jews' exodus from Egypt and it's celebrated by holding a ritual meal called a seder.

On Passover we celebrate our freedom and we remember our time in bondage. This theme is driven home by the fact that the lengthy seder often feels like bondage and the meal that follows seems like sweet, sweet freedom in comparison.

So Elise ran out to buy those foods that best embody the taste of liberty: liver and ground fish.

It wasn't long after the inspiration for our spontaneous seder struck that we were seated at our candle-lit kitchen table with a thematically appropriate feast at hand. The menu included chopped liver, gefilte fish, matzoh, charoses, salad, a dry, minerally French white, chrain (horseradish and beets) for the fish plus the other items on the seder plate (with fresh, local oysters standing in for the salt water - controversial but delicious). For charoses we just minced the last of the apples from our wedding and soaked them in rosé.

Jews of my generation think that most of these foods can only be found in family legend or in jars in that one, sad section of the grocery store so dominated by the color orange. But it was all surprisingly easy to make and turned out perfectly well even without following recipes (my grandmother never used one, so why should I when replicating her cooking?). We watched MB's chicken liver pate video for inspiration and I thought back to my article on fried gefilte fish from last year.

Remember, these things are not hard to make. This is the cuisine of destitute Eastern Europeans, not timpani.

For the spiritual element we passed a library copy of an Elie Wiesel haggadah back and forth, glossing over the parts that don't do much for us and expanding upon those themes we so love. It was a deeply satisfying experience but unfortunately at the end of the meal the tone suddenly changed for the worse. The empty bottle of wine brought us the terrible news that a beloved muppet had gone mad, killing a vendor of alcoholic drinks.

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Nancy Heller said...

Great post! After my mother got sick with MS and couldn't "make" Passover anymore, I comforted her by telling her that "when Moses led the Children of Isreal through the dessert - he wasn't looking for Kosher L'Pesach (Kosher for Passover) labels. I've lived by that philosophy ever since.

Happy Passover!

Michelle said...

Aww. You made the fried gefilte fish! And the oysters make me feel less badly about having made challah twice this week. :)

Medifast For Free said...

I tell you one thing. I've been to a parallel universe, I've seen time running backwards, I've played pool with planets, and I've given birth to twins, but I never thought in my entire life I'd taste Passover meal.

Anonymous said...


I enjoyed reading this, and was set to cook a few snacks, but then you spoiled it with the mention of that filthy old lying professional Holohoaxer Wiesel!

Spoiled my appetite..

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