Welcome to the Matzoh Ball

Tonight is the first seder. I’ve been cooking and cleaning for weeks. Even the recent Noreaster that tore through my town and left me without power for five days couldn’t put a dent in my holiday spirit. I confess I was momentarily panicked when the lights first went out. I had gallons of chicken soup in the freezer. I could put up with reading by candlelight, freezing showers, and indoor temps of 40 degrees. But lose my soup? Heck no. Thankfully a friend had an extra refrigerator in her basement, an empty freezer, and best of all, power. Passover was saved.

This year we are having 25 family and friends join us for the first seder, 14 for the second one. It’s a bit daunting, but the part that keeps me going is the joy and love I feel when I look around the room. I delight in all the singing, praying, laughing, and eating! I kvell, Yiddish for swoon, at the wide-eyed enchantment on the faces of the children.

The search for the Afikomen (a piece of matzoh that is hidden during the seder) is one of the highlights of the night. The matzoh is put in a little pouch, made by one of my sons when he was in nursery school, and then hidden by the adults. Once the kids find it, they hold it “ransom” because according to tradition, we cannot complete the seder without it. “Heavy duty negotiating” ensues, until a “fair price” is set – usually either a few dollars or a small gift. As the kids get older, you’ll see the teenagers “help” the younger ones hold out for a good prize. My husband and I often joke that we knew two of our sons would be good lawyers given their Afikomen negotiating skills!

And the food – Oy, the food. Five courses and my kids would seriously object if I attempted to eliminate any of them – even if they personally don’t eat some of the delicacies. Two of my four wouldn’t touch a piece of gefilte fish with a six-foot pole, yet they’d be the first to express horror at the very concept of omitting that course from the seder menu. Listening to my kids, I can almost hear the chorus from Fiddler on the Roof singing “Tradition!” I ask you, Stiletto Faithful, regardless of which holidays you observe, do your children cling more to tradition than you do?

And it’s not just the age-old traditions. I mean the ones that I added a couple of times over the years and have now been informed are set in concrete. Luckily, I looked back at my blog from two years ago and found a recipe for Persian Charoset – something I had entirely forgotten, but which son number two told me was always a family tradition (um, what family was he in?). Anyway, I’m making it, as always!

All best wishes for a Zissen Pesach (a sweet Passover) – and a wondrous spring.

Marian (the matzoh ball-making Northern Half of Evelyn David)

Murder Off the Books by Evelyn David
Murder Takes the Cake by Evelyn David

8 replies
  1. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    It sounds absolutely wonderful, Marian! Wish I could crash. 😉 Enjoy the time with your family…and I'm getting hungry now, just imagining the five courses of food!

  2. The Stiletto Gang
    The Stiletto Gang says:

    I'm so glad you wrote about this. I've been wondering about how everyone celebrates this time of year. Tomorrow my blog about celebrating Easter will be up.

  3. Zita
    Zita says:

    We absolutely cling to the traditions my Mom unwittingly set. There is a breaded cauliflower dish she has to make for every holiday meal, as well as a chocolate and vanilla torte we cannot possibly celebrate without. My Dad's traditions were all alcoholic, rather than Mom's food-based ones. Somehow we fell into the Martinis on Christmas morning habit. Martinis with bacon and eggs–not so good =). Have a happy holiday!

  4. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    Zita, can you share the cauliflower recipe? I am a cauliflower addict and I've never heard of it in a breaded dish (but then again, I'm no Martha Stewart). You guys are really making me hungry now! Must eat some lunch!

  5. Zita
    Zita says:

    Sure, it's dead easy to make, Susan. You cut up and boil the cauliflower and then toss the "trees" in bread crumbs. Pan fry them in butter (I suppose you could use margarine, but really, it isn't as tasty or vein clogging, so where's the fun in that?) until they are a light golden brown. salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

  6. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    Yum! And Maggie sent me a recipe, too, so I'm going to be trying new cauliflower recipes all weekend! Thanks, guys. 🙂

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