By Jeff Shoer
The snow may be gone, and sugaring off season is coming to a close, but other springtime arrivals are here – Passover and Easter. These annual festivals/holidays are important for various reasons (I won’t get into the religious significance, as I am not a member of the Clergy, a Rabbi or a Historian). I will get into one underlying fact – Food is served during both.
Like many people, when I think of Passover, the first thing I think about (apart from the amazing (his)story) is Matzos (plural form of the unleavened bread traditionally eaten in place of leavened bread during Passover) and when I think of Easter (apart from the amazing (his)story), I think of chocolate (in giant egg and bunny molded fashion). I think you can see where I am going with this…let’s eat something.
Now for the fine print: This article is not certified Kosher.
What foods do you think of during the holidays? What foods do you look forward to? Any you prefer to pass over? When I was young, chopped liver was definitely one of the latter.
On the Passover side…(and please Bubbie’s no fighting).
Matzos – Unleavened bread (there is even a Gluten Free version – I won’t quote the price, it’ll make you say Oy).
Matzo Ball Soup (a classic of classics, chicken soup based with round dumpling balls made of Matzo meal, vegetable oil, kosher salt, pepper, secret ingredients and Bubbie’s love. Balls can be light, fluffy, dense or even cannonball.
Gefilte Fish – Baked blend of mashed/ground fish i.e. carp, pike or whitefish in the form of a log, and then sliced as an appetizer (usually on a bed of lettuce, topped with a carved carrot and sprig of parsley)
Prepared Horseradish – A topping for the gefilte fish and to be eaten as a condiment (in a jar and can be white or purple (I like the purple one mixed with beets. The purple makes you forget it may burn your tongue – in a good way)
Brisket of Beef – Slow cooked and sauce basted (Everyone says their Mom made it best – I believe my Mom’s included Ginger Ale as part of her secret sauce – no contest here)
Potato Knishes (like popovers) or Latkas (potato pancakes)
Mazto Brei – Think Passover ‘French’ toast (in scrambled or omelette form) made of moistened Matzos dipped in eggs. Toppings are varied and debated. I always preferred cinnamon and sugar, but now I’m partial to maple syrup. My Dad always insisted on butter, salt and pepper were the way to go. Perhaps, I’ll ask the dog he likes Matzos too.
Kosher Wine – I asked the clerk at the S.A.Q. for the Kosher wine section, he said it was right behind me – of course the place I hadn’t looked. A guy at checkout wearing a red ‘Price’ T-shirt bought the same bottle. Small world. Go Habs!
Now for the Easter side of the table…
For this component, I had to ask around and combine it with what I had seen on TV over the years (so that was suspect).
When I surveyed others the responses were interesting. One that really stuck out was Spiral ham on egg Matzos (light on the mustard or it will get stuck). This response speaks to the openness of cultures or/at least when food is involved.
Fish – I believe traditionally no meat is/was served on Good Friday, so fish was eaten instead.
Main dishes for the Easter Sunday feast could include; Ham, Roast Beef/Prime Rib, or Lamb (Roast or Rack of). I was told that serving Duck or Goose is more European. Lest we forget the trimmings and accompaniments; potatoes in various forms, assorted spring vegetables ‘peas and carrots’ and gravies. My favourite response: Mom’s raisin sauce, described as a compote of cooked raisins and a secret blend of spices. I could hear my friend’s lips smacking.
Why save dessert for the end? I was told fresh fruit pies are even set out with the meal (now that’s my kind of feast).
How about a chocolate Easter egg hunt for the kids (can you eat the decorated hard-boiled egg ones?), fresh peach cake for the adults, or traditional hot cross buns on Good Friday (sticky sweet spiced buns made with raisins or currants and marked with a white cross made of frosting on top)?
Please pass the Matzos…but who are we kidding, break out the chocolate for everybody!
Now where’s that darn bunny?