Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pesach Food

Guest Author - Dan the Man

I'm just going to go to it. There are about 25 foods or so that I'll eat on a regular basis. Pesach prohibits me from eating about 17 of them over those eight days. That leaves me with 8 foods that I would eat during the year that I can still eat on Pesach. And that's the stuff I found myself buying at the stores. So the food I did need to buy is quite limited, and starting about two weeks from now, I'll be bringing matzoh farfel, milk and sugar to work with me on the first annual Bring Matzoh Farfel to Work Day. It'll be an accepted Jewish holiday as of 2012.

As we scrolled through the Passover-special aisle like it was a blat of gemara, my mother--my chevruta (emphasis on the "ta" as Brovender's girls would put it)--kept insisting that I buy Herrs Potato Chips or some other form of snack. I then pointed out the most logical and rational argument of my life: "I don't eat those the other 357 days of the year. Should I start liking them now? Will my newfound liking for them dissipate when my chometz is sold back to me by imaginary goy 42 minutes after the holiday ends?" See, that's the thing that comes up when you shop for pesach food. It's just such an interesting thing that happens as people prepare for Pesach: Because food is somewhat limited, they decide to eat things they don't particularly like, instead of just sticking to the foods they know they like. Egg kichel, borscht, leben and other products are around throughout the year, yet nobody partakes in them because they're awful. Then suddenly Pesach comes around and soup nuts and chocolate spread becomes a reasonable mid-afternoon snack? I'll stick to my blueberry jelly and Temp Tee, thank you very much.

Of course, the classic example of this is macaroons. Do a poll in October and ask people if they actually enjoy the taste of macaroons. This is the hypothetical I posed to my dad today. We concluded about 25 percent of people would say they do, although it\'s probably a wee bit higher because people always lie in polls (Adam really beat Narch). Then go to the market next Sunday and see if 1 out of 4 carts have macaroons in them. Ha! In truth, 3 out of 4 will. And those extra 2 of 4 people with them will find, to their amazement, that at the conclusion of the holiday the macaroons haven't been touched. Because at some point between that poll and now, they have forgotten they don't like macaroons. And this was the argument my mother was making why I should be stocking up on them, even after I said I don't like them. "What else are you gonna eat?" she asked. See, if you treat yourself as a savage, eating macaroons is a step up from little critters and leaves (though some are served in those bags of lettuce I have seen). But I surprisingly have a more upbeat view of the holiday, as I can find stuff like Matzoh pizza that I can enjoy instead when I get hungry. In fact, I have gone so far as to say I like the Matzoh version more than the regular version of pizza. So why do so many people fill their carts with macaroons? I have a theory. In the past 30 years, Pesach has changed. Ask your parents what foods they grew up on and I bet you that macaroons was on the list and artichoke hearts was not. There is a wider variety of foods available now than ever before. So shouldn't that lead people away from macaroons and toward marshmallows? Au Contraire! See, our parents continue to buy macaroons--even though they confess to not liking them--because it reminds them of Pesach of yore. It's like intrinsic in the mitzvah for them. As the baby boomers retire, however, expect 25 years from now not to ever see macaroons on the shelves anymore. It will become widely accepted that nobody likes them--or eats them--and they will lose their symbolic value as our parents start to die off.


Blogger Jewboy said...

You know it's Pesach when you see a macaroon container in the garbage can at Camden Yards.

10:04 PM, April 16, 2006

Anonymous Sara said...

I have the exact same experience with the potato chips! Would never eat them during the year, yet on Pesach everyone will try to convince you that there's nothing else to eat. I am eating craisins today at work and for lunch I will have salad, tuna and a yogurt. Not really different than my regular fare. Anyone can survive Pesach.

10:53 AM, April 17, 2006


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