Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Raise Your Hand If This Sounds Familiar

In yesterday's NY Times, food writer Alex Witchel recalls the Pesach seders of her childhood:

"In the house I grew up in, the Talmud was not open to interpretation. Translated simply, it meant: “Because I said so.”

Among our Seder imperatives was a “festive meal” which didn’t occur until Page 30 of the Maxwell House Haggadah. Up until then there were no highfalutin discussions about wandering Aramaeans or anything else. Everyone at the table read a paragraph of the Passover story in turn — fast — mispronouncing the same words every year. Then someone would invariably drip Manischewitz red wine onto the white tablecloth and someone else would invariably drop red horseradish from the Seder plate onto the white tablecloth, and my mother would watch silently, chewing Maalox. What’s more festive than that?

Then there was either gefilte fish or chopped liver, chicken soup with matzo balls, roast turkey or brisket accompanied by potato kugel, asparagus and tzimmes. For dessert, there were macaroons or some cake made without dairy products or yeast, all of which tasted like sugar mixed with clay. Everyone feigned delight. But the menu never changed because that would constitute a sin against the Talmud (see aforementioned translation). "

My hand is soooo up right now.


G6 said...

Excellent post.
Thanks for the smile :)

BrooklynWolf said...

Roast turkey???

The Wolf

Baila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baila said...

Just read the article. In my family we always did a dairy second seder (very much frowned upon by everyone we knew, but my mother didn't care).

Alex is lucky. She had brisket.

SuperRaizy said...

Wolf- Yeah, come to think of it, roast turkey is an unusual choice for seder. Roast chicken is a lot more common.
I think you're the one that's lucky. You have a Mom who doesn't care what other people think. More power to her.

BrooklynWolf said...


The point of my comment is that the predominant custom is not to have *anything* roasted on the night of the Seder.

The Wolf

SuperRaizy said...

Oy. This is not the first time that I've missed your point. I'm sorry.
I forgot about that custom. (I've never actually made a seder. I've always been a guest, so I guess that I've never put that much thought into the menu.)
Based on other articles that I've read by Alex Witchel, I think that she grew up in a traditional, but not strictly observant Jewish household. So I suppose that they didn't hold by that custom.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

that does sound familiar. I'm raising my hand too!

I remember waiting forever till shulchan orach and I look forward to finally eating, that when that's over I get to tired to continue with all the rest of the Hagaddah, although the fun songs are at the end.

Jack said...

Brisket is/was a staple.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Maalox might have oyster shells in it so you shouldn't chew it.

Melissa said...

This post made me laugh. I can visualize it perfectly.

I am so looking forward to my first seder next week.


Anonymous said...

Raising my hand, actually, raising both.

Our seder was always over by 11.30pm - those were the days....