I was away until Sunday night and had to work late on Monday, no time for extraneous baking. Instead, I thought I would share some photos from my Passover Seder with my family. We only had Seder one night, but it was quite a feast. Above is my family’s Seder plate. If you are unfamiliar with this plate, each item symbolizes a part of the story of the Jews exodus from Egypt. Not surprisingly, my people made each symbol edible and made sure to work snacks and booze into the Seder. We get cranky when we are hungry.
The first two bowls are filled with parsley and salt water. The dipping of a simple vegetable (parsley) into salt water (which represents tears) reflects the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt, who could only eat simple foods. (Apparently, us Jews required complicated and fancy food) Moving counter clockwise, next is the bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. In my family, we use horseradish.
Next is the lamb shank, which represents a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Since the destruction of the Temple, the shank serves as a visual reminder of the Passover sacrifice, it is not eaten. The egg is another visual reminder of a second Passover sacrifice. Though it was originally also a roasted meat, it is now an egg because eggs symbolize mourning and are the first things served to mourners after a funeral (hmm, that is news to me). The egg is supposed to evoke mourning over the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the fact that we can no longer offer Passover sacrifices.
Last, but certainly not least, is the most delicious part of the Seder plate. Charoset [pronounced: ḥărōset], is a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and sweet red wine, and it symbolizes the mortar the slaves had to use to build storehouses in Egypt. It is delicious (not the storehouses).
In the middle of the plate is a cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah. This is really the most ridiculous part of the Seder. When we were kids, my parents actually went through this charade of opening the front door and saying “okay Elijah, come on in” and then my father and grandfather and uncles would proceed to ungracefully and blatantly bump the table with their hips to make it look like the Prophet Elijah was drinking from our cup. Really guys? (Note to my parents – we never believed this.)
Every major Jewish holiday in my family requires a ridiculous feast. Even on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement and Fasting), when most people eat lighter fare to break their fast like bagels, cream cheese and fish, we stuff our faces with various meats and kugels. The heavier the food, the better. If we all don’t have stomach aches after dinner, then all is not right with the world.
I took a bunch of pictures of the food my mom made. She worked her ass off all week to feed the 18 people who came to our house.
My Dad carving the turkey:
Platter of turkey:
Leek and potato kugel (this was buttery & delicious):
Some sort of roasted yams with apricot glaze. This was a new recipe, and the consensus was “yuck”.
Roasted carrots and parsnips – yummy!
And, of course, the famous brisket. This is so good, and you can find the recipe here.
A private bowl of Charoset that I snuck out of the fridge for me and my sister:
Also featured on my plate: matzah meal stuffing (doesn’t sound good but is actually very tasty), and my grandma’s fresh cranberry sauce with chopped nuts and segmented oranges. If you look close you can see that there is actually some turkey hiding under my mound of cranberry sauce. I like cranberry sauce.
Some of dessert – that is a plate of my mom’s mandel bread, homemade coconut macaroons, and chocolate chip cake. Not pictured is a flourless chocolate cake with strawberry sauce that I made, which I will post about later.