Friday, April 06, 2007

Know Your Jewish Community: Passover Food

I hate Passover food. As a mostly-vegetarian, my diet contains a lot of beans, corn, rice, legumes, and grains, so Passover sucks (if only I were sephardi/dating a sephardi, there could be an end in sight). However, most Jews seem to love Passover food. How do I know this? Lots of people gain weight during Passover. Ergo, they are eating a lot, and they must be enjoying it, right?

Amy of Cooking With Amy has a couple dessert recipes that don't look so heinous. Although the heinousness of Passover deserts is, of course, relative to how much you want a dessert. Gillian Pollack of Food History talks a little bit about traditional Greek Passover foods, which are probably better than traditional Eastern European Passover foods, which include things like gefilte fish--the hot dog of the fish family.

One Jewish Dyke of her eponomyous blog has a bit of a rant about the prohibitive cost of Passover food. Which, I agree, is absurdly high. However, in this case one can understand how the overhead would be much higher, even than regular kosher food. She seems to be a bit surprised at the existence of Passover Pizza (mmm Passover "convenience" foods, whoda thunk it?), as is Jason Weinberger of Spot of Bother. All I can say on the subject is that Jews get stupid while shopping for Passover. You have a short period of time in which to do your shopping, a limited supply, and a shortage of good ideas. The result? My Mom has 4 different vinegars, and 3 canisters of spray oil, but no soups (except for matzoh ball). I have 3 cans of tuna, a container of light KLP mayo, and a package of string cheese.

Anyone else have a weird food combo? Also, for the record, as I live in NY, I don't need to stockpile, as I have been going, every morning to one of the (three!) kosher supermarkets within a five block radius of my apartment to purchase premade food, at great expense. It is, however, cheaper than buying the raw materials, AND the necessary equipment to assemble it, as I have zero Kosher for Passover utensils/equipment.


Sarah said...

Lately I've noticed that all my foods are one color...sort of beige. Soup...omlettes...potatoes....

It's shocking--I consider myself a good and innovative cook, but I refuse to use Pesadik versions of normal foods (they're gross, and expensive, and really, what's the point if you don't feel you're doing something different?). And since soy is my usual fall-back plan...

On the other hand, my first seder was amazing and contained none of the usual pesach foods. What it did have was Yemeni lamb/potato stew, asparagus, cheese-free lasagna (courtesy of the Times), merengues, mousse (Times again), and a lot of veggies. And shockingly good mevushal wine. I should clone my uncle.

orieyenta said...

Lots of people gain weight during Passover.

Do you think that has to do with loving the food or the way that matzah seems to affect the digestive system? (I know...gross but true, no?)

gefilte fish--the hot dog of the fish family

HA! HA! I'll never be able to look at another one of these without hearing this in my head.

We're jealous of you having all the readily made Pesach food available. We'd be willing to spend top dollar to eat something other than matzah ball soup, egg salad, and tuna salad at this point. (Feh, who needs Pesach utensils/equipment when you have paper plates and plastic utensils? LOL)

Jason said...

What I find amazing about Passover foods are the interesting things every family has kept secret. Last night a friend was telling me about "Bark" a maztoh/carob candy bar-ish thing his family makes.

Mine has "Matzoh Rocks" which are "rolls" my mother makes of matzoh that loosely simulate eating a sponge.

Sarah said...

Oh yes, Jason reminded me--how could I forget my roommate's secret indulgence--matzah dipped in tomato pasta. Yum, yum.

Gillian Polack said...

The more I study food history the better my Passover food becomes. I live in a city with precisely 100 Jewish families, so buying prepacked stuff is hard. My own pre-prepared foods are a box of cake mix and lots of tins of pickles. Right now I'm nibbling on an early 19th century almond dish (get fresh almonds, coat in sugar-water mix, heat til crispy, snack on until infinity plus one). The keftikes recipe was amazing, but just as wonderful was the Sephardi khoshav dessert. I haven't even fallen back on matzah brie yet and its Saturday night!

Maybe next Pesach I should do an historical recipe a day, focussing on the vegetarian and easily prepared?

Marisa Elana said...

Oh, I've had fun with the Pesach food this year... my roommate and I made a HUGE "Eastover" dinner this weekend (kosher for me, on Sunday for her...) and made a lot of fabulous food, but my favorite were the Zucchini Boats: cut two zucchinis (zucchinim?) in half, then cut each piece lengthwise & hollow it out. Mash up two big potatoes and mix in a cup of your favorite soft cheese and 6 stalks of chopped steamed asparagus. Spoon the potato stuff into the zucchini halves & bake at 400 for 15 minutes. YUM! (and you can eat them with your fingers for breakfast when you're running out the door...)

Annie said...

Orieyenta- Yeah, premade food is one of the major benefits of living in NY.

Jason- I think that some people's family "secrets" should be kept that way. Some of them are just gross.