Monday, April 1, 2013

Eight Crazy Days

This post is dedicated to my sister: Family, holidays, and the foods that represent them wouldn't be as tasty without you to laugh about it all with. 

As we approach the end of yet another Passover holiday, I sit (not on the toilet, of course) and reflect on what a terrible holiday it is. Well, the actual holiday is ok... celebrating being freed from slavery and avoiding plagues and all. Woo hoo! Let's party. But in relation to the food, this holiday is in the crapper. And for all the Jews reading this, you know I am being incredibly facetious using that word.

I was raised in a household with Jewish traditions. We are not that religious. I fast for Yom Kippur and I keep Passover, that's about it. I know people way more religious than me that don't do either, which for some reason makes me feel good about the balance I have found. My family does find a way to get together to celebrate many of the Jewish holidays. For me, religion is about family values, gatherings, traditions and the food associations I have for each of those.

My non-Jewish husband will be the first to admit (sometimes without even being asked, weirdly) that Passover is our worst holiday. Freedom after 400 years of slavery is good, but regarding the food, I kind of have to agree.

Passover lulls you in to thinking you could be healthy for the week. My sister and I fall for it every year. "Hey, great! Passover's coming! It's basically a religious Atkins diet, you know. No bread, no pasta, no rice (for us). I'm going to be so healthy. I'll be sure to drop a few." Yeah, right.

And then Passover is upon us and the reality hits: Passover is a bad food holiday. We replace all the bread in our diet with dessert. Really bad dessert. Chocolate covered marshmallows and sugary coconut balls. I say sugary coconut balls because I can't have you thinking we're eating those lovely delicate French macaroons. No, these things have some weight to them, but then you dip them in chocolate and... ok, it's dipped in chocolate. Who can't get through a package of anything dipped in chocolate? 

Speaking of dipping things in chocolate, someone decided to dip matzoh in chocolate. No doubt trying to replicate Easter candy, but who cares... it's matzoh dipped in chocolate! Pass me another slice. It sure beats Kosher for Passover sponge cake. This stuff sucks up all the moisture in your mouth like a ShamWow! It was so impossible to swallow, I panicked that I had actually forgotten how. 

Then there is gefilte fish. Gefilte fish is, how do I put this nicely, an acquired taste. And to put it more realistically, sweet jellied fish balls that come in a jar. You coat them in horseradish to make them taste better... horseradish! Pretty strong stuff to numb the pain. I happen to love gefilte fish, but I understand why people might be turned off, to be nice, or completely nauseated, to be more realistic.

And then there are toasted coconut covered marshmallows. I'm not sure where everyone else stands on these. Another acquired taste, sure, but I can take down a bag of these things within the first five days each year. I ate fourteen while I was writing this. Gefilte fish and the coconut marshmallows both get filed in the 'Why do humans consume these?' column in my husband's head, but then that just leaves more for me.

As if all the Passover food wasn't bad enough, someone out there actually has the nerve to attempt to make kosher for Passover versions of the food that we eat on a normal basis. And somehow we are gullible enough to buy it each year. If you like cereal, then maybe you'll like our kosher for Passover cereal. Oh, yes please.
First, let's discuss the size of the bag in relation to the size of the box:
Seriously? You could probably make the box a little smaller. All that extra cardboard could make more of this stuff:
The fine print on the box should read: Actual "cereal" bears no resemblance to anything edible. Adding berries will not help.

So we've got a week of good intentions leading into the actual eight days and what my sister calls The Disease. It is called The Disease because it is infectious and will take over your body. It is the magical combination of matzoh, whipped cream cheese and raspberry jelly. If you haven't ever tried this, I suggest you do. But unlike my sister and I, try to limit yourself to just a few pieces, not several pieces every single day for eight straight days. Yes, it is that tasty. It's crunchy, creamy, sweet, tangy with those awesome raspberry seeds sticking between your back teeth (a sensation that on its own reminds me of Passover wherever, whenever). 

Ah, but then every disease has its downside. The result of all that matzoh is... well, it is actually nothing. It is truly, absolutely, nothing. Nothing getting through, nothing going out. Moses parted the seas, let the Jews go, but nothing would pass through after them. Matzoh is essentially the most realistic way of recreating that experience. The plagues may come and go, but matzoh tummy feels like it's forever.

So, that's it. Another Passover celebrated, another family gathering, more food consumed. I love my people and I love my family and we love our food. Now it is on to eat some leftover Easter ham. Oh yes, I keep Passover and I eat ham. I also eat bacon, cheeseburgers and lobster. Try to make sense of that! I found a balance that works for me. It involves a lot of good food. Except on Passover, of course. Passover just involves a lot of complaining about these eight crazy days of food.

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