Friday, April 14, 2006

I heart Pesach

Tonight was the second seder of Pesach. In Israel there is no second seder, as the second night is only observed by Jews in the Diaspora. Tonight's seder was at my parents' house and it was lovely. Anyone who has been through any sort of large family dinner is aware of the potential for well, disagreements. However, everything went very smoothly and we went through the whole hagaddah. Sometimes certain relatives have been known to truncate the blessing after the meal. I prefer to do the whole thing.

Anyhow, my mom made a traditional Libyan-Jewish dish called mafrum. It is an extremely labour-intensive dish made with ground beef and potatoes. You really can't tell from the link, but it's divine! For Passover, though, the potato-meat "sandwiches" are dredged with potato starch (I think), not flour.

For Pesach, my dad usually makes a dish of lamb and leeks, and then there is also the lamb shank that is broiled at the end of the seder. It is pretty much the only time of the year I eat lamb so it is extra special. The shank is part of the seder plate to represent both the "outstretched arm" of G-d, and the sacrificial offering of the time of the Temple.

I tried to find a good representation of a seder plate online, but all the examples are so paltry looking. Our tradition is to fill a huge basket with enough of each symbolic food to feed everyone at the table. The examples one sees online usually display one of each food on a small seder plate. It just doesn't make the same impression.

I am (at 30) the youngest at the table. I am supposed to sing the Four Questions ("Why is This Night Different From Other Nights?") all by myself, but the family pities me and sings along. If you want to hear a somewhat sombre-sounding version it's here under "Ma Nishtana". Only, you have to imagine it sung sweetly (or precociously) by a little kid, with the rest of the family and guests singing the answers.

My cousins are in San Diego and my sister is in Jerusalem, so I am the young'un holding down the fort and listening to the well-worn jokes and brand new remedies.

Yes, I said remedies.

Because of the aging population of the seder table, the conversation often drifts to ailments. With ailment comparisons come many helpful suggestions. Not just doctor referrals and drug-interaction warnings. No, every year there is something strange and exciting and new that just might be the thing to help everyone feel better! One year, quite memorably, it was shark cartilage. This year, it is cactus juice. I don't know which cactus juice.

This year I've been invited to my first post-Passover party. The idea is that after abstaining from leavened foods and all things chametz, you get together, eat pizza and cookies and drink beer. I don't know if I really want to ruin all the healthy eating in one fell swoop, but it's a cute idea.

Now it's 4:00am, but I can't seem to wind down. (I've been home since 12:30am) So much to do before I go to L.A. It's so much easier to be overwhelmed than to tackle a bit at a time. Maybe I'll just stay awake and do all my chores starting at
7:00am, so as not to disturb any neighbours.

Happy Passover and happy Easter to all who celebrate.

This is a post about the time preceding Easter, but it's really interesting.

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