Monday, March 29, 2010

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Or Happy holiday of Passover!

Pesach is the time when we remember the exodus from Egypt, you know "we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt... and we built cities for him, Pithom and Ramses... then God with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm freed us from bondage..." Including appearances by Moses, the parting of the Red Sea, and the 10 Plagues.

Pesach is also famous because we eat matzah, which is a very dry cracker without much flavor. You aren't supposed to eat leavened bread, and the rabbis took it even farther (like they always do!) by prohibiting beans, corn, and rice. That's only for the Ashkenazi, the Jews from northern Europe. The Sephardim, who come from southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and probably the Indian Jews too, get to eat rice because it's such an important staple of their diet. My dad always says that one of us kids has to marry Sephardic.

So the poor Ashkenazi suffer through a week of matzah, maztah meal, and whatever you can do to make them palatable. The answer is basically just eat a lot of meat, because dairy dishes are where you miss the real food options the most. I never feel that we suffer from bad food during the week of Pesach. And you'd be amazed at how good the candy they make for the holiday is.

We also change over all of our dishes because the ones we use from day to day are "contaminated" by chametz (leavened bread). I think that part is kind of fun. Don't get me wrong, it's a huge pain to switch over everything in your kitchen for just one week, but it makes everything seem new and clean and special.

Pesach is mostly defined by the Seder that we have on the first two nights. You have a bunch of people over, you tell the story of the exodus (which I have pretty much memorized over the past 25 years and have reproduced sections of it for you above), you sing songs, and you eat a huge festive meal. Jewish holidays tend to revolve around eating. That's my kind of holiday!

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy whatever you celebrate at this time of year.

P.S. I have also added a button to receive new posts by email, after a certain mountain goat (to be specific, an ibex) requested it. It's on the right by the followers area.


Leesa said...

Chag Sameach... Happy Pesach...

Hey!! You forgot to mention THE MOST important thing about matzah... DON'T eat too much of this stuff...
I made chocolate caramel covered matzah last year and ate SOOOO much - it was DELISH and I couldn't help myself.. It TOTALLY messed up my insides and I had HORRIBLE cramps and diarrhea for a week.. After than HORRID experience... I vowed NEVER to eat matzah again!! (TMI, I know.. but hey... we're all up close and personal on your blog)...
Even the guy at the kosher supermarket in Antony concurred with me on this.. as he had the same problems I did, maybe not as bad, as I didn't ask..
But, honestly... it felt like my insides were churning and churning and then couldn't handle being in there anymore and just exploded!!!! UGGGGHHH!!!!
Happy Passover, again!
Stay away from the matzah!!!

getyourselfconnected said...

Happy Pesach to you!

Barbara said...

Hi Mira,

I sincerely hope that you had a good Passover.

I'am of Christian background, but believe that we all have to learn from each other.Differences there will always be, but let us find how to appreciate them.

Peace, Shalom, to all.

Jennie said...

Happy Pesach!

Mary Harvest Kitchen said...

Happy Passover, sweet pea. I definitely think that even if holiday traditions are complicated or "a pain", there's something about doing them that is joyful and comforting. I mean, for Christmas we bring in a TREE for heaven's sake and we move around a bunch of furniture and all the stuff on the bookshelves.... but we wouldn't have it any other way. I think this is especially true when you get the opportunity to celebrate important holidays in the house you grew up in--I love that.
Have fun! Enjoy family-holiday-matzah time!

Zhu said...

Love the way you explain religious days! I'm such an idiot when it comes to religion I can barely tell Christmas from All Saints' Day!

au soleil levant said...

Thanks for all the Pesach wishes!

Leesa - the usual problem with matzah is the opposite one! A lot of people get really constipated. That's why all the desert trays are filled with dried fruits, to try to keep you regular. Maybe European matzah is made with laxatives?

Barbara - well said. I think we're a lot more the same than we are different, but people tend to get stuck on the differences as barriers to understanding rather than as ways to learn from each other.

Mary - absolutely right. The ends justify the means! I had to beg my mom to have the big family seder here like usual this year because she was worried about germs. I said Mom, if I'm allowed to go out and eat cupcakes and be at the mall, I don't think having the family over is any worse!

Zhu - LOL! When I was in France every once in a while someone would ask me about Catholic holidays. As if I knew! It was always the obscure ones too. Glad you like the way I explain the holidays I actually know a little something about.

Leesa said...

Okay... maybe it was CONSTIPATION then.. but all I really remember is the NARSTY stomach pains... hahahah!! I think you are right, though!

Loislane said...

Woohooo!!! I got my email button.

I'm in Israel, the food sucks for vegetarians. Every meal is meat (no cheese allowed) and there are no beans, chickpeas or tofu dishes to help me get protein.

All I'm eating is vegetables, matzot and chocolate. And I'm not even religious. There is no other available food!!!!

By the way, the Rabbis are looking into removing the lame kitniyot laws.

au soleil levant said...

Leesa - I'm having trouble with matzah this year, something about it is just upsetting my stomach, which is weird, because it's literally just wheat flour and water, the plainest thing you could ever eat!

Yael - SERIOUSLY? getting rid of the kitniyot laws would be such a huge improvement on Pesach. They are so pointless and completely unrelated!!! I definitely sympathize with your problems in Israel. Come back quickly!